Google Fiber announced Thursday that it is ceasing operations in Louisville, less than two years after launching the coveted high-speed internet service here. The company said it will shut down its fiber network on April 15, and that it will cover customers’ bills until then.
Google said in a blog post that it would need to rebuild its network in Louisville to meet its standards for service, and that such a choice would be wrong for its business.
Google deployed Fiber in a few Louisville neighborhoods, including the Highlands, Portland, Newburg and Belknap. The company used a time- and cost-saving process called “nano-trenching,” through which it laid fiber along roadways in trenches only a few inches deep. Residents complained about the technique because, months later, fiber cables were popping out of the trenches.
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said the city supported offering Google Fiber to residents because it thought it would lead to more internet options at higher speeds and lower prices. Google Fiber itself costs $50 to $70 a month.
Porter said the city will continue working with AT&T and Spectrum, which both offer high-speed internet.
But Kent Oyler, president and CEO of the city’s chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville, Inc., took a different tone, expressing disappointment in Google’s decision. In a statement, he described AT&T and Spectrum as “strong partners.”
“GLI has been a strong advocate for investments in high-speed broadband services to support growth across Metro Louisville,” Oyler said. “More than ever, our businesses need the latest Internet services to remain competitive.”
Teacher Dan Pike said his family has subscribed to Google Fiber at their Highlands home for about a year, paying $50 a month for internet that reaches download speeds of 100 megabits per second.
Pike said the service has been “great,” and that he thought customer service was good and the internet service was a good value for the money.
“That’s a bummer,” he said when he learned the service was ending.
He’ll probably return to AT&T for internet service, and said he expects to pay more for lower speeds. But Pike said his main complaint is about the roads. He noticed a cable sticking out of his street just this week.
“I kind of wonder what’s going to happen now,” he said. “If they’re leaving, are they going to do anything to fix the roads up?”
A Google spokeswoman said the company would work with city officials to deal with its infrastructure. In some cases, that may mean leaving parts in place that can be used by the city in the future.
“Our infrastructure is installed in different ways across the city, which means we need to take different actions on various parts of the network,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to WFPL. “We will, of course, be working closely with our metro partners to make sure that any assets left behind are safe and stable for the long term.”
She declined to say how many customers Google Fiber has in Louisville. She also did not share how much Google invested in the Louisville fiber network.
This story has been updated.