Some Kansas City residents who have been waiting years for Google Fiber to install service at their homes recently received e-mails canceling their installations, with no word on whether they’ll ever get Internet service from the company.
KSHB 41 Action News in Kansas City, Missouri, “spoke to several people, living in different parts of the metro, all who have recently received cancellation e-mails,” the station reported last week. “The e-mails do not provide a specific reason for the cancellations. Instead they say the company was ‘unable to build our network to connect your home or business at this time.'”
While Google Fiber refuses to say how many installations have been canceled, KSHB said, “there is speculation the number of cancellations in the metro is as high as 2,700.”
“The company says it has slowed down in some areas to experiment with new techniques,” such as wireless technology, the report also said. Google Fiber is still hooking up fiber for some new customers in parts of the Kansas City area.
Install canceled, but nearby homes have service
One resident who had his installation canceled is Larry Meurer, who was seeing multiple Google Fiber trucks in his neighborhood nearly two years ago, in the spring of 2015. “I’m left wondering what’s going on,” he told KSHB after getting the cancellation e-mail. Meurer lives in Olathe, Kansas, one of the largest cities in the Kansas City metro area. Residents only five houses away and around the corner have Google Fiber service, the report said. But Meurer said he and several neighbors who never got service were “terminated.”
The cancellation e-mails read as follows:
Thanks for signing up for Google Fiber. Although we’ve been working hard to bring you service, we’re unable to build our network to connect your home or business at this time.
Unfortunately, that means we’ll need to cancel your Fiber account. If you paid a deposit, we’ll refund your deposit amount to your original form of payment in the next two weeks.
Another resident who spoke to KSHB after having his installation canceled said, “it’s getting to feel more like a corporate decision to start to withdraw from Kansas City.”
It was November 2012 when Google Fiber went live in Kansas City, its first metro area. It’s not clear how many homes and businesses received Google Fiber connections, but the project was successful enough that it expanded to eight additional metro areas in the US.
Metro governments generally welcomed Google Fiber with open arms and regulatory changes designed to ease installation. But the Alphabet-owned ISP hit roadblocks in several places, including lawsuits filed against local governments by AT&T, Charter, and Comcast. In October 2016, Google Fiber announced that it would be “pausing” or ending fiber operations in 10 cities where it hadn’t yet fully committed to building. At the same time, Google Fiber said that its “work will continue” in cities where it has already deployed service or had begun construction.
Google Fiber is also deploying high-speed wireless home Internet after buying Webpass, a wireless ISP that mainly serves businesses and multi-unit residential buildings in densely populated areas. Webpass service is in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco and is deploying in new cities, but it’s not clear whether the wireless system will be used to supplement fiber deployments in Kansas City. Google Fiber has also been experimenting with “microtrenching” in Austin in order to install fiber more efficiently and with less disruption to residents.
We asked Google Fiber how many Kansas City residents are receiving cancellation e-mails and whether it is planning to hook up more customers in the metro area, either with fiber or wireless. We haven’t received answers, but DSLReports quoted a Google Fiber statement that says, “Google Fiber loves Kansas City and is here to stay… We recently announced our expansion into Raymore, we are continuing to build in Overland Park, and we can’t wait for even more customers in Kansas City to experience what’s possible with Google Fiber.”
(UPDATE: Google Fiber responded to us and provided the same statement quoted by DSLReports, but no further information.)