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Google Rethinks Fiber Construction

Alphabet begins to test widespread wireless connectivity instead

MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif. � Google�s 2010 announcement of its Fiber project sparked high expectations at a time when telephone companies were perceived as moving slowly in the quest to provide broadband service.

Six years later, Google parent Alphabet Inc.�is rethinking its high-speed internet business after initial rollouts proved more expensive and time consuming than anticipated, in stark contrast to the fanfare that greeted its launch, according to theWall Street Journal.

Google Fiber has reached just six metro areas (see the color coded map at right, in which blue indicates current availability) after having spent hundreds of millions of dollars digging up streets and laying fiber-optic cables in order to offer web connections 30 times faster than the U.S. average.

Google has started construction in five new metro areas (the purple dots) and announced plans to reach another dozen cities in the next few years (gray) � but now those dozen cities will be the test bed for a push into wireless technology. Google recently boughtWebpass Inc., a company that provides last-mile internet connections wirelessly. Webpass now serves about 820 buildings in five cities.

Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the company�s shareholder meeting in June that wireless connections can be �cheaper than digging up your garden� to lay fiber, according to the same article. AT&TandVerizon Communicationshavealso have discussed using wireless technology for the �last-mile� connection to homes, but neither has deployed it widely as of yet. �