Thursday, April 18, 2019

Louisville Slugged By Google

The whole Google Fiber disaster in Louisville is officially dead, and the tech giant will pay the city nearly $4 million as it was no match for incompetent installations, structural mishaps, legal roadblocks and its own greed.

Google Fiber yesterday shut off service in Louisville, Kentucky, and has agreed to pay the local government $3.84 million to remove exposed fiber cables left behind by the ISP's failed nano-trenching experiment.

Google Fiber service was scheduled to be shut off at midnight last night, according to a Louisville Metro Government (LMG) announcement of the exit agreement. Google Fiber had announced its intention to leave Louisville two months ago, admitting that it did such a bad job with fiber installation that it would have to "essentially rebuild [the] entire network" in order to fix the problems.

In Louisville, Google Fiber reportedly was burying cables in nano-trenches that were just two inches deep. The method was supposed to speed up deployment, but it didn't work as Google Fiber expected.

Google Fiber's payments totaling $3.84 million will be made over 20 months and cover the costs for "removing fiber cables and sealant from roads; milling and paving activities where needed; [and] removal of above-ground infrastructure," Louisville Metro said.

"Louisville Metro Government and Google Fiber agreed to these payments to fulfill the company's obligations under its franchise agreement and local regulations, which require restoration of rights-of-way should a service provider end service in Louisville," the announcement said.

The city said it will repair the roads itself over the next 20 months. Google Fiber had been offering service in Louisville since late 2017.

"The agreement addresses network installations in Portland, Newburg and the Highlands, where Google Fiber offered services," Louisville Metro said. "Where necessary, construction will begin as part of the Public Works paving season currently underway."

With the city instead of Google Fiber performing repairs, Google Fiber General Manager Mark Strama said the agreement will let the local government "prioritize and execute all aspects of the required work based on the needs of the community."

In addition to the $3.84 million payment, Google Fiber is donating $150,000 to the Community Foundation of Louisville's Digital Inclusion Fund to support projects such as "refurbishing used computers for low-income individuals and the enrollment of public housing residents in low-cost Internet access through other companies providing service in Louisville." Google Fiber will also donate 275 refurbished computers to the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.

Good on Google to throw a pittance at the city before slinking away, but the reality is Google screwed up cabling so badly in order to do it cheap and fast that the entire infrastructure had to be scrapped.  If this were any other company on Earth, they'd have been driven into bankruptcy by the bad press from this alone.

Instead, Louisville now has one of the least competitive internet markets in America as a direct result, with 90% of service now falling to AT&T and Spectrum, and entire neighborhoods locked into one provider or the other with zero competition.

So yes, I believe the big tech companies need to be broken up, and what Google did to Louisville is a perfect example why.

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