Google Fiber dumps 100-Meg service

Declaring that it's now "All in on a Gig," Google Fiber announced this week it is no longer selling a symmetrical 100Mbit/s service to new customers.

Google Fiber, which gets much credit for nudging US cable operators to ratchet up their deployment of 1-Gig broadband, said it's "recommitting to our roots" as it drops the slower-speed plan and focuses on selling its uncapped, symmetrical 1Gbit/s service starting at $70 per month -- the same price it's been since 2012, when the service was first introduced in the Kansas City area.

Google Fiber still hasn't announced a broadband subscriber total, but it's likely that few opted for the 100-Meg plan on comparative value alone. That tier, called Fiber 100, was sold for $50 per month, $20 less than the much faster baseline offering.

It's also not the first time Google Fiber has pulled back on a slower-speed offer. In the spring of 2016, Google dropped a "Basic" service initially offered in the Kansas City area that delivered a mere 5Mbit/s down and 1Mbit/s up in exchange for an upfront "construction fee." Google Fiber has also pivoted away from its initial managed IPTV service to instead promote OTT-TV streaming options, including Google's own YouTube TV service.

Even as Google Fiber removes a speed option in its wired footprint, other aspects of its business haven't changed much. Fiber Phone, a $10 per month add-on, is sticking around. Webpass, a wireless service from Google Fiber focused on apartment buildings, is also alive and well in several markets, and now forms the basis of a recent service expansion in Austin that complements its fiber buildout there. For buildings covered by Webpass in the Denver, for instance, the service delivers 1-Gig for $60 per month, or $550 per year ($46 per month).

Google Fiber's renewed focus on 1-Gig also comes after the unit hit the pause button on FTTP expansions to new markets in the fall of 2016 and decided instead to focus on existing deployments in areas such as Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Kansas City (Mo. and Kan.); Nashville; Provo, Utah; and The Triangle in North Carolina. This also comes after an embarrassing pullout early this year in Louisville, Ky., where Google Fiber's plan to use shallow trenches for fiber in that market didn't pan out.

Google Fiber is still part of Alphabet's "Other Bets" unit focused on longer-term projects. In Q3, revenues for Other Bets were $155 million, up from $146 million a year earlier, driven by Google Fiber and the Verily life sciences division. Operating losses at Other Bets widened to $941 million from $727 million in the year-ago period.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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