Google Fiber has announced via a blog post that it is officially saying "goodbye" to its Louisville gigabit internet rollout, following unforeseen problems with a new 'micro trenching' method that would require the company to effectively start over. The company says that rebuilding the network from the ground up would not be the correct business decision to make but that the network's current condition doesn't meet the high standards it has set for itself elsewhere.
One of the problems in the company's methods, disrupting residents' services according to the tech giant, involved fiber lines not being sealed properly into roadways. The materials used to secure the lines proved ineffective for the region, forcing the company to relay lines with the more typically used asphalt instead.
Services will continue through until April 15 and no other Google Fiber regions will be affected.
A testing ground left behind
The company also took a moment to reach out and thank the City of Louisville as well as residents who participated in the service and Mayor Greg Fischer for the partnership, which started toward the latter half of 2017. In particular, the company points to the mayor's defense of a “One Touch Make Ready” (OTMR) rule passed in the city. That rule allowed a single crew to make changes to lines on utility poles without waiting on another company to move its own lines.
AT&T had contested the OTMR rule, suing the city to maintain control over lines and utility poles it managed. The carrier was working to roll out a competing service at the time. The mayor came out in support of the rule citing its importance in keeping a high level of competitiveness for gigabit internet access services.
The "lessons" learned in Google's Fiber deployment for Louisville, including refinements to the micro-trenching method have proven to be successful in other Fiber cities, the company says. In short, micro-trenching is a method that speeds up a fiber rollout using specialized machinery to dig comparatively shallow trenches for the fiber optic lines. Those are then sealed in place.
Offsetting a business-first decision
The fact that Google is pulling out of Louisville rather than fixing the problems, despite that the methods and other lessons learned are reportedly working in other cities is likely to result in some backlash for the search giant. It's bid to unleash gigabit internet nationwide has already been fraught with trouble almost across the board, forcing it to pull out of project cities and seek out new ways to deliver its product over the past several years.
The call also doesn't seem to have been made lightly. The company points out that 'a lot' of analysis that went into the final decision and promising some compensation to customers. Google also promised to work with both customers and partners in order to reduce disruption and to do "the right thing by the community". To that end, the company says it has reached out to those consumers on February 7 to inform them of the impending end of service and to offer those customers' remaining months at no cost.