A Google Fiber office in Atlanta. Courtesy Google
A Google Fiber office in Atlanta. Courtesy Google

Google Fiber will lay off employees at its Los Angeles offices and put on hold plans to offer fiber optics-based, ultra-fast internet service to Angelenos, with the company now considering other methods for delivering faster connection speeds.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city leaders in December announced that Google Fiber was exploring expanding its fiber optics service into Los Angeles, with the technology intended to be much faster than what is now available locally.

Those discussions have been halted, with Google Fiber planning to lay off employees in Los Angeles, according to a source familiar with the company’s plans.

It was not immediately known how many employees will be laid off, nor how many work at Google Fiber’s Los Angeles offices.

Google Fiber, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc., the owner of the search engine firm Google, issued a statement saying that “Going forward we’re focusing on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today.

For now, that means we’re going to pause our operations and offices in Los Angeles while we refine our approaches,” the statement said.

Los Angeles is among several cities where Google Fiber had been in “exploratory talks” to roll out its fiber optics internet service.

The company is putting those talks on hold for most of the 10 potential cities where those plans were announced, according to Craig Barratt, who is stepping down as the company CEO and will serve as its adviser.

Google Fiber is laying off 9 percent of its staff, according to the technology news website Ars Technica. That website has also reported that the company has fallen short of its fiber optics subscriber goals.

Google Fiber representatives said they plan to look at other ways of delivering extremely fast internet, such as wireless, which is used by Webpass, a company Google Fiber purchased this summer.

The company will still operate its fiber optics service in cities where they are already available, such as Austin, Texas and Atlanta, and will continue to roll out their service in Irvine and other cities where they have made commitments to build.

Google Fiber representatives thanked Los Angeles city officials, as well as Garcetti, in their statement, and said that “we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

Ted Ross, general manager of the city’s Information Technology Agency, said that while city officials are “disappointed with (Google Fiber’s) decision, we are continuing discussions with the company and other partners on options to deliver greater broadband to our residents.”

Ross added that the city has been “partnering with the ConnectHome program, working on expedited permitting for wireless carriers that has helped deliver dramatic growth in bandwidth over the past year, and looking to expand the city’s innovative conversion of nearly 100 streetlights to smart poles that include cell phone transmitters,” Ross said.

ConnectHome, which provides four years of free internet to residents of city-operated public housing developments, is offered through the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, according to the agency’s website.

—City News Service

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