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Communications Google Network The Internet

Google Fiber's Wireless Internet Service Is Leaving Boston (theverge.com) 63

Webpass, the wireless home broadband company that Google Fiber acquired in 2016, is exiting the Boston market. The Verge received a reader tip on the situation and a quick look around revealed that Boston is no longer listed as a current Webpass market on the company's website. From the report: "As with any acquisition, we've spent some time evaluating the Webpass business. As a result of our analysis, we've made the decision to wind down Webpass operations in Boston," an Access spokesperson said by email. "We'll work with customers and partners to minimize disruption, and there will be no immediate impacts to their Webpass service. We continue to see strong subscriber response across the rest of the Webpass portfolio, including successful launches in Denver and Seattle in 2017."

Before this move, Boston was one of 8 cities served by Webpass, which delivers up-to-gigabit internet speeds for residential and commercial buildings by using point to point wireless. That number has dropped to 7, and old Google search results for Webpass service in Massachusetts now redirect to the main homepage. Webpass internet service is available exclusively in apartment units and condo buildings. It originally came to Boston in 2015 and the company has (or at least had) an office in the city.

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Google Fiber's Wireless Internet Service Is Leaving Boston

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  • Gotta wonder if they got a big fat paycheck from the local cable/telco to pull this BS. I can't imagine how this makes economic sense. Once you sink the money for the hardware, if you aren't profitable, you increase your prices until you are...

    That or they negotiated another, bigger city where the local cable/telco monopoly would drop their legal challenges to Google fiber in exchange for this...

    • My own theory is that when Google's accounting department got expense receipts for the first three seafood dinners from its Boston field staff, it came close to bankrupting the company.

    • by ksw_92 ( 5249207 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @11:06PM (#56045183)

      [THIS finally made me create an account after many years of lurking]
      I doubt anyone paid off Google since they have enough cash to buy a telco.

      No, this is the problem with so-called "fast innovators". Infrastructure is a long con, played out over 30 years, and companies like Google can't see that far out. Like Google Fiber, which has stalled outright, Webpass requires significant infrastructure outlay for growth and that infrastructure requires significant expense in man-hours to get permits, space leased and palms greased before the first foot of cable can be unspooled at a site.

      ILECs and franchised operators have 40+ years (100+ in some cases) dealing with government entities, property owners and suppliers and have built institutional organs that know how to deal with those animals. It's actually not too hard to build communications infrastructure anymore and the telco resistance to muni-chartered systems is proof of that. It's not the cost of the hardware and installation that's the barrier to entry any more, it's the jurisdictional processes (ROW access, easements, etc. etc.) that kill infrastructure innovation. Google, with all its brainy puzzle-solvers and with all its peeking into billions of lives, can't seem to crack the nut that is your local cigar-chomping county commissioner and the planning board he sits on. It's like they're scared to get into political knife-fights. Too bad; that's the way infrastructure in the US has always been built forever. You think the Interstate system doesn't have a little graft and blackmail on its ledger?

      • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @11:48PM (#56045305)

        and that infrastructure requires significant expense in man-hours to get permits, space leased and palms greased before the first foot of cable can be unspooled at a site.

        All it takes is the building owner giving them an access agreement and sign a contract for service. It can't get much easier than that. For fewer than 30 units every unit gets service and the owner gets one bill -- pretty cheap for accounting.

        it's the jurisdictional processes (ROW access, easements, etc. etc.)

        There is no ROW or easement issue. The owner of the building says "ok". What rights-of-way do you think are involved?

        can't seem to crack the nut that is your local cigar-chomping county commissioner and the planning board he sits on.

        They were already in business in Boston. It seems they had "cracked" the planning board and county commissioner, even with what little authority they had to stop Google from installing hardware in a private building.

        What I wonder is why nobody is flaming google for their stupid excuse for not providing service to single-family homes. "It wouldn't be economical for the consumer". What? It's $60/month for gigabit internet service. That's cheap. Why wouldn't it be economical for someone to have that service? Hidden fees and taxes? What? Compared to Comcast 100Mbps it's absolutely marvelous pricing.

        • by bigpat ( 158134 )

          What I wonder is why nobody is flaming google for their stupid excuse for not providing service to single-family homes. "It wouldn't be economical for the consumer". What? It's $60/month for gigabit internet service. That's cheap. Why wouldn't it be economical for someone to have that service? Hidden fees and taxes? What? Compared to Comcast 100Mbps it's absolutely marvelous pricing.

          I think the idea is that you bring wireless to the building and then multiple units in that building sign up and you run wires down to those units so that 1 unit wasn't economical but 2-3 or 10 was worth it. And then there are line of sight issues potentially for smaller buildings.

          Still I wonder if it was one of those things which Google messed up by getting involved with. Smaller companies are willing to live on smaller margins as they have fewer levels of management and investors to feed.

          • I think the idea is that you bring wireless to the building and then multiple units in that building sign up

            There is only one "unit" in a single family dwelling. The claim isn't that it isn't economical for Google, it was that it wasn't economical for the consumer.

            I understand that there may be LOS issues, but if you are in the middle of a group of large apartment buildings you'll have those, too. They are also a different excuse than "not economical for the consumer".

            Smaller companies are willing to live on smaller margins

            Google has enough inertia that they can operate at a loss for a long time in a small division to grow it into a profit center.

            • by bigpat ( 158134 )

              I think the idea is that you bring wireless to the building and then multiple units in that building sign up

              There is only one "unit" in a single family dwelling. The claim isn't that it isn't economical for Google, it was that it wasn't economical for the consumer.

              The claim by Google? Well ya, that's BS. Obviously some people were signing up and it was economical and preferable for them. I was just talking about the price model for Google.

              I understand that there may be LOS issues, but if you are in the middle of a group of large apartment buildings you'll have those, too. They are also a different excuse than "not economical for the consumer".

              Smaller companies are willing to live on smaller margins

              Google has enough inertia that they can operate at a loss for a long time in a small division to grow it into a profit center.

              With deep pockets they can operate at a loss. Sure, but having more overhead means that it puts the path to profitability farther out... maybe too far for management given the adoption curve and competition ramping up with Gigabit Internet. If they had lower overhead... more like a scrappy start-up then maybe they dig in and c

      • [THIS finally made me create an account after many years of lurking] I doubt anyone paid off Google since they have enough cash to buy a telco.

        No, this is the problem with so-called "fast innovators". Infrastructure is a long con, played out over 30 years, and companies like Google can't see that far out. Like Google Fiber, which has stalled outright, Webpass requires significant infrastructure outlay for growth and that infrastructure requires significant expense in man-hours to get permits, space leased and palms greased before the first foot of cable can be unspooled at a site.

        It's a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP). It's rather difficult to try and compare that to the infrastructure challenges of yesteryear, back when you were fighting to dig up every street and road to install a few million miles of copper lines.

        And you don't get or keep your rank as one of the most powerful companies on the planet by not stocking 55-gallon drums of palm grease in your business inventory. If they were scared of political knife-fights, they wouldn't employ an army of lawyers and lobby

      • I don't know about the long game. My local cable internet monopoly made all their investment back in the first 5 years and have been laughing all the way to the bank as they screw me over every month with a 500% markup for my "high speed internet" AKA 65Mbps down/10Mbps up service...

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I can't imagine how this makes economic sense.

      Just another win for net neutrality

      "Under the Massachusetts legislation, any company that violates Net neutrality would be subject to antitrust enforcement by the attorney general's office."
      https://www.bostonglobe.com/op... [bostonglobe.com]

      If they can't monetize the pipe, they give up. It's not sexy or romantic or virtuous but that's how business works. Cut your losses is the best answer to sunk cost fallacy.

      • Ummm, or you just offer the service for a profit and stop screwing with the pipe... At the very least you sell your business unit to another concern who will do that.

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          Ummm, or you just offer the service for a profit and stop screwing with the pipe... At the very least you sell your business unit to another concern who will do that.

          that's not how it works. There's all kinds of liability issues that make infrastructure salvage a loser, and these kinds of assets are essentially worthless from an accounting perspective because they are capitalized and exempt of depreciation. It's like trying to make a buck on what finds its way into the sewer because the company offers free coffee to the employees.

          • I said nothing about infrastructure salvage. Selling the business to someone who will run it as it was run before Google showed up would be using existing infrastructure as was intended and installed to do... And that next company gets to re-start the depreciation from zero on their taxes, so it is certainly not worthless from a tax or cash flow basis. Nice try though.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:38PM (#56044811) Journal
    Seriously, this is one company that is following right in the footsteps of yahoo, IBM, HP, etc. They had TOP notch ppl and now have a fucking worthless POS CEO that is busy gutting them. Within 2 years, it will be apparent that Google has not only lost the top edge, but will not have ANY chance of regaining it.
    In fact, as I pointed out before, the VC should be going inside of Google and gutting them by funding good ideas. There are still ppl there with good ideas that are leaving now, and should be used on start-ups instead.
    • True. But in order for them to lose, there would need to be someone who replaces them. Yahoo had Google. Who is going to replace Google?
      • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:53PM (#56044897) Journal
        Well, technically, Bing could.
        But, Im hoping that DOJ will break up these companies in a vertical fashion. Google, Facebook and Amazon are all good ones to be broken up. Not sure why they pointed to apple when in fact they have no real monopoly and no longer are considered to be the top dog in anything.
        But, if Google was broken up, vertically into say 3 different googles and all with the same search capabilities, then they would compete against themselves (and perhaps bing, though I doubt it) and we would then see google restored.
        • Well, technically, Bing could.

          No really, pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

          If anyone is even more fucked up about innovation, it's MS. How many times and how many products have they launched to great fanfare, only for it to die on the vine a few years later?

          • by DogDude ( 805747 )
            How many times and how many products have they launched to great fanfare, only for it to die on the vine a few years later?

            How many times and how many products have the launched to great fanfare, only for them to be the most popular products in their class on planet Earth?
            • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:23PM (#56045055) Journal
              technically, none.
              MS never had a hit on a software product on day 1.
              It took them several decades to create a locked-in monopoly of office and OS. From there, they would do things like release their visual product for cheap, and then give it away for free until borland was pretty much gone. Then and only then did they worry about IP.
              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                >MS never had a hit on a software product on day 1

                Apparently, you were either in a coma, or too young to remember the worldwide frenzy of the Windows 95 launch.

                • been coding since the 70s. I was very much here. Win 95 was NOT that big of deal. It was for the MS weenies, but it was not installed right away on all computers. DOS/Win3.1 ran on new ones for a LONG LONG TIME.
                  • been coding since the 70s. I was very much here.

                    Oooooo, a BBS l33t hax0r!

                    Win 95 was NOT that big of deal. It was for the MS weenies, but it was not installed right away on all computers. DOS/Win3.1 ran on new ones for a LONG LONG TIME.

                    You are on drugs. Windows 95 was a hit back then. The moment it came most large companies moved immediately out of Windows 3.1/DOS and onto it. Smaller companies setting up their small offices also got new machines with Windows 95 slapped on them. It was the laggards (or people with serious Unix shops) that didn't make the move back then.

                    • That's not what I recall, at all. Sure, the local computer shops were all pushing 95, but that's only because they wanted the business. Everyone else in small offices were sitting tight with what they had, in part because of how expensive things were back then.

                    • That's not what I recall, at all. Sure, the local computer shops were all pushing 95, but that's only because they wanted the business. Everyone else in small offices were sitting tight with what they had, in part because of how expensive things were back then.

                      That's what I meant, but perhaps my words weren't well chosen. Big shops were making the transition as well as small biznesses making new acquisition. The "laggards" would be those that had significant assets in old software and for whom making the transition wasn't an option (that includes small offices with computing assets already in place.)

                  • Win 95 was NOT that big of deal.

                    At the Egghead in suburban Richmond, VA, some of us camped out up to 24 hours before the software was made available. You'd think people were waiting for Led Zeppelin tix because Bonzo had suddenly come back from the dead. People in other cities across the country told of similar stories. Queues blocks long. Windows 95's launch was one of the biggest software events in history from the standpoint of the unwashed masses, and certainly Microsoft's most memorable coup.

              • technically, none. MS never had a hit on a software product on day 1. It took them several decades to create a locked-in monopoly of office and OS. From there, they would do things like release their visual product for cheap, and then give it away for free until borland was pretty much gone. Then and only then did they worry about IP.

                Dude. Excel has been a hit for years. And PowerPoint, and MS Word. People are typically content with Windows 10. And Windows XP was one of the most popular distributions they ever had. Azure is a solid competitor to Amazon in the IoT sphere. And so on and so on.

                I used to hate MS... back in what 95, 96 when it was a cool fad to check billwatch.net twice a day. I grew the heck out of it. You should too.

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            If anyone is even more fucked up about innovation, it's MS. How many times and how many products have they launched to great fanfare, only for it to die on the vine a few years later?

            I'm not sure if you want to try that argument as a way of defending Google. They are pretty much THE poster child company for releasing a product, tinkering with it for a year or two, and then dumping it unceremoniously. Google Search, Maps, Mail, Chrome are pretty much the only things that they've been able to stick with (and maybe their ads, though those aren't consumer products). For each of those there are five Google Waves, Google Buzz, Google Plus, Google Chat, Picasa, Helpouts, Moderator, their searc

            • I'm not defending anyone, I'm just saying MS is, if anything, worse than Google when it comes to "innovation".

              • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                I'm not defending anyone, I'm just saying MS is, if anything, worse than Google when it comes to "innovation".

                Microsoft certainly is not flashy, they don't have events where people get hyped about their products ala Steve Jobs's Apple. They don't take the world by storm, it's more of a sludge that ends up covering everything anyway.

        • Google, Facebook and Amazon are all good ones to be broken up. Not sure why they pointed to apple when in fact they have no real monopoly and no longer are considered to be the top dog in anything.

          Google, Facebook and Amazon have no real monopoly, either.

          But, if Google was broken up, vertically into say 3 different googles and all with the same search capabilities, then they would compete against themselves

          Why not bust them up into 100 different "googles"? The more competition the merrier. Multiple the necessary infrastructure to provide the search services by a factor of 100, that will certainly result in better cheaper faster, right?

          • really?
            So, exactly WHAT search engine competes against Google? This says in the 90s. [statcounter.com]Another measure claims 75%.
            that is a monopoly. It might be natural (MS and IBM were created and enforced illegally), but still a monopoly.

            Facebook ? Who else has more than 50% of the market? Hell, who else has more than 15% of the social networking market?Here shows facebook with ~75% of the social networking market. [statcounter.com] The LOWEST that I could find was 39%, with you tube have similar so that the 2 of them owned the indus
            • really? So, exactly WHAT search engine competes against Google?

              Bing. Yahoo. Both are valid, active competitors.

              Facebook ? Who else has more than 50% of the market?

              I'm sorry, but you're making 50% of the market the definition of monopoly? That's silly. And asking "who else has more than half" shows a serious lack of math skills.

              Amazon? Don't get me started there. NOBODY competes against them

              You need to take the blinders off. There are uncountable numbers of companies that sell stuff, and a still uncountable number of companies that sell stuff on the internet.

              By breaking these companies up, into just 3 companies each, it would get competition moving forward.

              You don't need to break anything up, there is already competition. Yes, it is hard for newcomers in a market to gain a footh

              • yahoo is using bing and bing as a total search has less than 15% of global.
                Monopolies is when 1 group has control.

                A monopoly is characterized by a lack of competition, which can mean higher prices and inferior products.

                50% is MORE than enough to control. And I throw out the 50% issue because I suspected that you were not bright enough to figure it out. So far, you have fucked up what a monopoly is.

                As to cars, prior to 2006, GM, Chrysler and Ford had more than 40% of the global market and a lot more of American market. After 2006, we had 2 car makers and thankfully now have 3. Even though most of the regu

              • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                It doesn't really matter if Google has a monopoly. This is a frequent mixup that people make in these sorts of arguments: having a monopoly is not necessarily bad. It does not mean a company needs to be broken up. You have to show that companies are using their monopoly position to force out competitors.

                I don't see a way for Google to make people stop using Bing, or Duck Duck Go. There's nothing stopping anyone from releasing a competing mail client or map application either.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Google, Facebook and Amazon are all good ones to be broken up.

          Sure, right after they break up AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. You know, actual monopolies.

      • Amazon and Microsoft seem to be chipping away at their some of their business lines, but nobody has really stepped up with a better search option yet. Someone will eventually, though.

    • Seriously, this is one company that is following right in the footsteps of yahoo, IBM, HP, etc. They had TOP notch ppl and now have a fucking worthless POS CEO that is busy gutting them. Within 2 years, it will be apparent that Google has not only lost the top edge, but will not have ANY chance of regaining it. In fact, as I pointed out before, the VC should be going inside of Google and gutting them by funding good ideas. There are still ppl there with good ideas that are leaving now, and should be used on start-ups instead.

      Here's the thing about "good ideas" these days that so many people fail to realize. Find me a good idea that isn't already poised to get legally ass-raped by some mega-corp patent whore.

      We had a good couple of decades of good innovation. The world wide web exploded. Porn went to plaid online. The birth of Social Media (OK, I take that last one back, that was more of a curse). In those 20 years, we've also seen patent hoarding become rather fucking obscene. Googles best chance at long-term survival is

  • How to support new community broadband and new networks.
    How to support new gigabit internet networks moving into more cities and states?
    Whats the block been used by telcos to prevent a dynamic innovative rollout of new private sector networks in every state and city?
    Time to escape the paper insulted wireline rules and get states and cities to support new gigabit internet networks.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The business model of Webpass isn't new or novel. Sign a deal (read: kickbacks) with an apartment complex (MDU) and become the "preferred" provider for the captives, er, residents. Same model that Direcpath, Gigamonster, and numerous MDU-only ISPs use. Aside from reducing the amount of fiber laid with line-of-sight radio, Webpass isn't changing the fundamentals of the business model.

    Competition showed up not long after Webpass set up shop. Starry has a number of MDUs online, selling service at price points

  • I don't get it. Please explain how fiber internet can be wireless? Something like spiderman is used to wire the wireless internet???
  • I've never heard of this company via advertising, I've never seen a billboard, I've never heard anyone I know talk about it, I've never heard it mentioned when someone asks about cutting the cable bill, etc. Upon further investigation, they were going after buildings with 10+ units only. That doesn't reflect a lot of the housing stock here. A lot of the housing is composed of 2 or 3 unit dwellings that were originally constructed in the early 20th century, largely centered on public transit stops, and built

  • Wireless fiber? Oh, you mean magic? Because that doesn't exist. There is no wireless fiber. There isn't even a wireless protocol that gets close to fiber speed. It should have been illegal to even call it that in the first place.

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