Google Fiber NYC Rumors Surface Again: Why It’s Not Happening Anytime Soon

 @tommylikeyt.halleck@ibtimes.com
on April 17 2014 12:52 PM
Google Fiber NYC
The Google Fiber bunny will not be hopping toward NYC anytime soon. Google Inc.

No, Virginia, there is no Google Fiber bunny. At least not anywhere near New York City.

Every time Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) posts a job listing for a Google Fiber sales manager position in New York City, as it did on Thursday, Internet sleuths everywhere from Business Insider to Geek.com rise out of the woodwork to ask, “Could this mean Google Fiber in NYC?”

And Google has responded: The answer is no. Here is the full statement, which Google said in an email to International Business Times:

Don't read into the job listing; we've had a full team of folks working on Fiber in the New York office (and other locations around the world) for years.

We don't currently have any plans to bring Google Fiber to New York. We're entirely focused on building out our networks in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, and on exploring the possibility of bringing Fiber to the 34 locations we announced in February.

That is not to say Google has completely ruled out bringing its ultrafast (or ultrafree) fiber-optic network to the Big Apple, but it says it does not “currently have” plans. Every time Google posts a job listing for this sales manager position, which it uses to sell Fiber in the areas where Google has deployed it, online reports pop up that suggest Google is planning to come to New York. Geek.com "broke" the report this year, and Business Insider reported the rumor in 2013. But even if Google wanted to get into the city, it would have a difficult time getting there.

Underneath Manhattan lies a vast labyrinth of tunnels that was originally built for telephone wire after the Great Blizzard of 1888. It runs from all the way from downtown Manhattan to the Bronx, and it's controlled by Empire City Subway (ECS), a Verizon subsidiary.

Verizon claims that it maintains the tunnels, and it points to its own fiber-optic FiOS network as proof. But critics, including one of Verizon’s competitors, as well as other businesses that lease the space to run their own cables through there, recently told Crain’s New York that the tunnels tell a different story:

Conduits are filled with cables from defunct Internet providers that went belly-up after the dot-com bust in 2000. Verizon itself left severed copper wire in lower Manhattan ducts after installing a fiber-optic network following Superstorm Sandy. (The company says the cables could be easily removed, if needed.)

The conduit system that could supply New York with Google Fiber is a crowded mess, which is unlikely to change in the short term. Why would Verizon clear the way for its competition?

The other major hurdle Google Fiber would have to clear to enter New York City is “the real kicker,” according to the Washington Post's Brian Fung. It would depend on “how badly a mayor might want Google Fiber for his town,” he said. 

Kansas City, Mo., gave Google a sickly sweet deal, Fung noted. The deal sweeteners that Kansas City used to attract Fiber included "no charges for rights of way, a city commitment to review any permit application within five business days and the use of detailed mapping software and other city assets for free," he wrote. "The city also granted Google office space, the freedom to manage road traffic and ... access to a dedicated team of city employees who would intervene on its behalf if and when exceptional problems arose."

Giving Google free rein in a city as large as New York would be a significantly more difficult proposition, as it's the most densely populated city in the U.S. That’s not to say that Google will never bring its network to big cities like New York, but the Fiber team has their hands busy with nine medium-sized cities already.

Would Mayor Bill de Blasio give Google everything it would want to install Fiber in New York City? He might someday try to make a deal with Google, and he once said the city should give all of its citizens "truly universal access to high-speed Internet" connections. His office did not reply to an email seeking comment.

Could Google ever come to New York? Maybe, but it's not likely anytime soon.

Follow Thomas Halleck on Twitter @tommylikey

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