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Technology

Google Fiber halts expansion plans in eight cities, including L.A.

Google
Google has called some of the Labor Department’s demands an invasion of employee privacy.
(Justin Sullivan / Associated Press)

Google’s parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed Internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks.

Expansion plans in cities such as Los Angeles will be put on hold.

The company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious — and expensive — Google Fiber program, is stepping down as chief executive of Access, the division of Google corporate parent Alphabet Inc. that operates the 5-year-old program.

In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it’s already operating, including Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Charlotte, N.C.

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But it will put further plans on hold in at least eight metropolitan areas where it’s been holding exploratory talks with local officials. Those are Dallas; Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles and San Jose; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; and Portland, Ore.

Barratt didn’t say how many jobs would be cut. His statement described the Access business as “solid,” but said it would make “changes to focus our business and product strategy” and incorporate new technology.

A recent report by tech news site Information said the business was under pressure by Alphabet CEO Larry Page to cut costs after failing to meet financial goals, including a target of signing up 5 million subscribers.

Barratt said he’ll continue to serve as an adviser to Page.

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In December, Google Fiber said Los Angeles was one of 17 cities that could receive access to the service. To better qualify, the city was asked to abide by a checklist developed by the company that included “efficient and predictable” permitting, access to city property for network hubs and the appointment of a person to deal directly with the company. 

Times staff writers Samantha Masunaga and David Pierson contributed to this report.

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UPDATES:

8:30 a.m.: This article was updated to include details about the possible expansion of Google Fiber in Los Angeles.

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This article was originally published at 7:20 a.m.


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