Sources claim that Google Fiber has been disappointed with the company’s overall number of total subscribers since launching five years ago. A paywalled report over at The Information cites a variety of anonymous current and former Google employees, who say the estimated 200,000 or so broadband subscribers the company had managed to sign up by the end of 2014 was a far cry from the company’s original projection of somewhere closer to 5 million.
Google Fiber has never revealed its total number of subscribers. A report last October pegged the company’s total broadband subscribers at somewhere around 120,000, though it’s unclear how many of those users had signed up for Google Fiber’s symmetrical 5 Mbps tier, which was originally free after users paid a $300 installation fee.
That tier, aimed at low-income users, has since been replaced by a new 25 Mbps, $15 per month option. The company also continues to sell symmetrical 100 Mbps for $50 per month, symmetrical gigabit connections for $70 per month, or symmetrical gigabit broadband and TV service for $130 per month.
It’s believed that the company’s TV subscriber sign up totals have been even worse, with one analyst last March suggesting that Google Fiber had just 53,390 pay TV subscribers as of the end of last year.
The slow pace of digging up streets to install fiber is the primary contributor. Sluggish progress on that front is why the company has been looking more closely at multiple wireless variants to expedite deployment. Some of these technologies will complement existing fiber, while Google Fiber feels some, like millimeter wave, may someday replace it.
Disappointed by sluggish subscriber tallies, The Information report states that last month Alphabet CEO Larry Page ordered Google Fiber boss Craig Barratt to cut the total Google Fiber staff in half to roughly 500 people. That’s a claim that’s sure to only fuel continued speculation that the company is starting to get cold feet about its attempts to bring broadband competition to a broken duopoly market.
A Google Fiber spokesperson declined to comment on The Information’s report.