Another Friday, another Gigabites. In today's edition, Google Fiber loses interest in fiber, London follows New York with new LinkUK program, Comcast sues Nashville over pole attachment ruling and more.
The market has seen this pattern of behavior before. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, committed massive funds to the Fios fiber network a decade ago, but then tired of the drain on its capital and cut off wireline investment in favor of directing more money toward wireless growth. The problem that Verizon has since discovered is that it needs more fiber even to support advanced wireless networks. After closing the door on further Fios expansion, Verizon shocked the market earlier this year by announcing plans to extend its fiber network into Boston. The catch? It's unclear how much of the wireline infrastructure will reach consumer homes, and how much will instead lay the groundwork for new wireless services.
Back to Google, or rather Alphabet. The decision to press pause on fiber deployments appears to counter the phase of investment that the rest of the industry is now in -- a phase that Google Fiber itself was the catalyst for. However, it's important to note that the move doesn't mean that Alphabet is backing away from other network-related plans. For one thing, the company is still an Internet service provider, albeit a small one, and it's still experimenting with ways to innovate on networking technology; be it through wireless connectivity, undersea cables or connectivity for Google Cloud services.
Perhaps more interestingly from a consumer perspective is the fact that Alphabet has also dipped its toe into smart city waters through its Sidewalk Labs subsidiary. But where once the company might have combined smart city applications with new fiber deployments, now it appears the connection is more tenuous.
LinkUK will not include a free web browsing feature. It will, however, provide free phone calls, a spot for charging mobile devices and "access to maps, directions and local services." The new kiosks will also sport a variety of sensors for capturing data on local temperature, pollution and traffic.
And Uniti Fiber , a company created when Commercial Sales & Leaving (CS&L) acquired both Tower Cloud and PEG Bandwidth, has said it's now building out fiber networks in a whole new way -- with conduits that carry a minimum of 288 fibers, and with a strategy that divides up parallel conduits to cover small cell connectivity and general data traffic separately. (See Uniti Has Massive Fiber Buildout Plans.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading