Choosing Suppliers

UK Google Fiber is still only a dream, so we're potentially stuck with BT's monopoly for some time to come

3 min read

28 October 2016

Deputy Editor, Real Business

Google Fiber has long been in our thoughts for a contender for better broadband in the UK – but allas, the company is having problems on its own turf so we may never see British expansion come to fruition.

Ofcom reached a conclusion on the BT broadband debate a few months back: it doesn’t have to give up its monopoly on the UK by splitting up with Openreach. This has had us cross our fingers and hope for a hero to come and rid us of our slow internet woes – like Google Fiber.

It was first in 2010 that Google announced its plans to create a gigabit fibre network in America – and it allegedly intended to invest in the UK’s broadband network. It’s a good move on Google’s part if you take into account the fact that £4.92bn of its revenue comes from Britain.

BT even claimed it would give Google access to its underground ducts as it would lower the costs of a fibre rollout. But despite BT’s offer, and Google holding talks with CityFibre, discussions broke down over concerns of conflict with CityFibre partners Sky Broadband and TalkTalk.

It came to the conclusion that a British Google Fiber project wouldn’t be announced any time soon, but we all held our breath and hoped – if it had been on the cards before, what would stop it from considering us as a setup location again? That particular announcement was in 2014, and with 2017 around the corner we’ve heard that Google is now struggling on US soil.

Google Fiber is scaling back the expansion plans of its fibre network – many cities, such as Chicago, have been removed from its list of future locations – not to mention that its chief honcho, Craig Barratt, is stepping down.

The company is also set to lay off nine per cent of its staff, marking a significant setback for parent company Alphabet – Google Fibre was arguably one its most ambitious projects.

According to Kamalini Ganguly, Ovum’s senior analyst:  “Installation was far too time consuming and expensive. Fibre is the most expensive option when it comes to mainstream broadband access technology. I think in the future we may see Google use a wireless solution that doesn’t take fibre all the way to the home. We’ll see a combination of technologies.”

It’s making some changes and checking them twice, the company has said. But what we do know for sure is that we’re nowhere closer to getting Google Fiber in the UK than before – we can still keep hoping though.

This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes. Get in touch via email (shane.schutte@realbusiness.co.uk) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.