For a number of weeks now, we've been hearing that Google has entered some troubled waters when it comes to its Kansas City Fiber project. The first customers were supposed to be connected in early 2012, and that's clearly not the case. Furthermore, local newspapers report that the fiber network deployed by the Mountain View giant is far from being ready for commercial operations. The delay, it seems, is due to Google and local stakeholders disagreeing on the conditions and rate at which Google should be able to access the poles to attach its fiber to.
Reading between the lines, it seems that Google thought, or hoped, that because of their brand name and because of the visibility of the project for Kansas City, they would be able to speed up normal procedures and get preferential rates. Reality, alas, seems to have reasserted itself. The Google brand cannot steamroll over everything, apparently.
The latest rumor is that Google would consider buying Surewest, a Sacramento based FTTH and cable operator who has been operating its cable plant in Kansas City for a number of years. Fierce IPTV reports this as a rumor, but reports it nonetheless. The rationale being that by using Surewest's existing authorizations, Google could speed up its deployment and meet its targets.
For what it's worth, I don't buy it. The original lofty goals of the Google Fiber initiative have already been considerably watered down, and the "blueprint" nature of the project is already seriously in question, but if Google needs to buy an existing and successful business to achieve its goals, not only is it admitting failure, it's throwing out the window any pretense that their model is replicable and that other municipals could do what they're doing.
Still, there's no doubt Google is in rocky terrain right now. The company has been known in the past to pull the plug on projects that didn't achieve their targets. Will Google Fiber be the latest victim?