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Google Fiber Service In Kansas City Up In The Air

September 5, 2017

As this blog has reported, amidst revenue declines and CEO troubles, Google Fiber has pulled back on plans to invest in fiber networks in several U.S. cities. Originally, analysts and reporters believed that cities that already had Google Fiber service wouldn’t suffer. It’s now clear that’s not true, including in Google Fiber’s inaugural venue, Kansas City.

According to Motherboard, Google Fiber’s gigabit offering has come to a “screeching halt.”

Motherboard reporter Kaleigh Rogers recently revealed, “Thousands of customers in KC who had pre-registered for guaranteed service when Fiber made it to their neighborhood were given their money back earlier this year, and told they may never get hooked up.” Google Fiber’s Kansas City Community Manager even told Rogers the company’s future in Kansas City is “TBD.”

Rogers reminds her readers that, city officials waived “millions of dollars in right-of-way fees” so Google Fiber could get started. As this blog reported, the city also subsidized Google Fiber’s rent. Some community activists questioned the city’s aid to Google Fiber, and the focus on gigabit speeds. One explained the situation this way: “It was a bit like if the public transit system said, ‘instead of buying buses, we’re going to buy a bunch of Teslas.’ There are people that have nothing. Why are you hyping up this ultra speed thing?”

Rogers also contacted Google Fiber for comment. She reports, “Google Fiber’s Kansas City spokesperson wouldn’t tell me the exact number of customers it’s hooked up in KC, and was vague about the program’s future.” (This stance is nothing new. Back in February, we reported that Curbed couldn’t get ahold of this information.)

Google Fiber began offering service in Kansas City in 2011 on a pilot basis.