It looks like Google is getting more serious about Google Fibre, its plan to bring fast fibre-optic internet connections to the U.S.
The company just hired Gabriel Stricker into a new role running policy and communications for the group.
Google Fibre,led by former Qualcomm exec Dennis Kish, launched in 201o in Kansas City, Kansas, and has since expanded to a handful of other small cities, including Austin, Nashville, and Salt Lake City.
But earlier this month, Google announced plans to expand to LA and Chicago — the second and third-largest U.S. cities respectively.
Google Fibre is technically no longer part of Google, but was spun out into a separate company within Alphabet, the new larger holding company that includes Google’s core online, advertising, and Android businesses (still called Google) plus newer “moonshot” projects like self-driving cars.
The fact that Alphabet sees the need for a dedicated policy and communications person suggests that it’s turning Fibre from an experiment — and a way to spur Internet providers to offer faster access — into a serious business.
Google’s capital expenditures increased dramatically between 2013 and 2014 (they have since leveled off), and while new Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said most of its capex was spent on the core Google businesses, she also said that capex will increase further as the company begins to expand into new areas: “In particular in Access and Energy, which contains our Fibre business among other efforts.”
In fact, it’s possible that part of the reason for the new Alphabet structure was to explain this rising capex as an investment in a new business rather than a simple expansion of its data centres.
Google and Comcast also hold different positions on policies like net neutrality.
Google, as one of the biggest web content providers, has a natural business desire for all internet traffic to be treated the same way, and not to allow service providers to charge extra money to make certain content flow faster.
Comcast has said it basically agrees with the current policy, but has held firm against changes to the law that would force Comcast and other internet providers to be regulated like telephone carriers.
Stricker was one of the leaders of Google’s communications group back in its fast-growth days, and Nicholas Carlson’s “Marissa Mayer And The Fight To Save Yahoo” credited Stricker with helping Google shine the spotlight on Marissa Mayer back when they were both at the company.
Stricker left Google in 2012 to head up Twitter’s communications policy, but left earlier this year when cofounder Jack Dorsey reclaimed the CEO reins.
Here’s Stricker’s tweet announcing the news. He had no further comment.
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