clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Google Fiber lags far behind expected Atlanta delivery date

New, 46 comments

When, oh when, will the search engine giant save Atlantans from their internet service woes?

For years, Google Fiber’s blazing-fast internet speeds have been teasing metro Atlantans.

Now, locals are wondering what happened to the hyped-up, web-surfing option originally expected to be online by 2017.

Introduced to Atlanta in early 2015, Fiber was billed as the saving grace for residents who complain of sluggish networks, crummy customer service, and costly bills. It would bring gigabit speeds to households from Sandy Springs to Hapeville and plenty of neighborhoods in between.

The project’s progress has been chugging along since summer 2015, with rolls of fiber wire snaking underground and “fiber huts” rising at 20-plus metro Atlanta locations. The huts will serve as the data-routing agents for the service.

But, for the vast majority of metro Atlantans who have held their breath for what many considered a godsend, Google Fiber is still but a pipe dream.

Some residents already have Google’s fiberoptic cables running through their properties, as well as brand-emblazoned wall jacks—mocking them for watching Netflix using inferior internet service providers—installed at home.

Once offered free to Atlanta locals, this hype-inducing #FiberisComing t-shirt is now selling for $9.99 (plus $8.99 shipping) on eBay.

But, in a broader sense, what actually happened to Google Fiber’s timeline?

Google officials haven’t shared a whole lot, but WABE recently broke down the trials and tribulations the ISP is facing, as well as the business priorities the company has kept so close to the chest.

Among the issues bogging down the project are problems involving its promise to provide free internet access to low-income residents, concerns of damaged infrastructure, and an apparently lackluster effort to secure needed permits.

The news outlet also dug through hundred of records of Fiber-related correspondence and found that the company was careful not to nail down a specific service startup date.

In fact, leaders of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. seem to have orchestrated a delay to maximize interest—or profits, perhaps, as WABE points out.

Fiber’s plans, WABE reported, could get back on track once “something that is substantive enough [in] value to justify accelerating the rollout again” occurs, according to Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat.

The report said experts suspect the aforementioned “something” refers to wireless data advancements that could eventually obfuscate the need for fiber wire to connect the huts with homes.

Right now, College Park is one of a handful metro Atlanta neighborhoods to boast Fiber connectivity—and only at one address in the city.

The Pad on Harvard, one of the first residential developments the city has seen in more than four decades, is enjoying the service—but only after local leaders “pursued them aggressively,” as Pad developer Rod Mullice put it.

Exactly what kind of activism is required to see the Fiber switch flipped on elsewhere around town, however, remains to be seen.

A statement sent to Curbed Atlanta after this story was published said that new Atlanta customers are connecting to the service every day. “At this time, we’re available in over 100 multi-unit residential buildings and portions of several neighborhoods,” according to a Fiber spokesperson.

This story was updated to include a response to the article from a Google Fiber representative, and to link a map of all the serviced and to-be-serviced metro Atlanta locations.