Google Fiber on its way to the UK - once it finds the right provider

By Sooraj Shah
18 Jul 2014 View Comments

As Computing had suggested more than a year ago, Google could be about to take its fibre optic network to the UK in a move that would change the face of the broadband market.

Google is understood to have held talks with CityFibre, a company that provides fibre infrastructure for Tier II cities in the UK, over bringing the Google Fiber project to the UK, the Telegraph reports.

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The discussions broke down because CityFibre officials thought that an existing partnership with BskyB would be put under jeopardy. BskyB and TalkTalk are helping to fund Cityfibre's fibre-optic rollout in 20,000 homes and businesses in York.

CityFibre feared that BskyB would see Google, which currently sells Chromecast - a piece of kit which enables people to stream video from any device onto the TV, as a competitor.

Google Fiber currently operates in four US cities and plans to expand to a further 34 cities. It uses a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connection, which enables faster speeds than the network that BT is deploying across the UK, which uses a mixture of fibre and copper in what is called fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC). 

Although BT is also implementing a FTTH product of its own, it is unlikely to cover many parts of the UK, and it hasn't been marketed in the same way as Google Fiber has in Kansas City.

Any move by Google Fiber will be regarded as a challenge to BT, who, according to Cityfibre's director of policy and regulation Mark Collins, had already attempted to challenge Cityfibre's fibre broadband rollout in York in the European courts.

BSkyB and TalkTalk are also planning similar speeds to Google's 1Gbps broadband in York. Google sources told the The Telegraph that the company held talks with CityFibre, but added that they did not progress to a contract.

Google is still keen to enter the market in the UK, however.

Back in June 2013, a Computing source mentioned an impending "tie-up" between Google and UK managed IT services company Colt. So Google may be looking at all of its options before it finalises its move across the Atlantic.

According to Nadia Babaali, communications director for the FTTH Council Europe, Google Fiber wasn't ever intended to be a successful business. 

"Google has started a race of gigabit cities across the world. And Google made it clear that the reason it was deploying the network was because it was basically telling the incumbent operators, ‘Hey guys, if you don't give us what we need to develop services, then we'll build it ourselves'," adds Babaali.

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