Exec reveals Google considered phone service as part of Fiber project
6th Dec 2012 | 18:45
Regulatory hurdles got in the way
In a case of "could have beens," a Google executive revealed this week that the search giant looked into tacking on a phone service with Google Fiber, its ultra-fast experimental internet and TV service.
The fiber service began rolling out in Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. last month, offering one gigabit-per-second fiber optic internet and TV services to both cities.
However, it turns out that before the launch of the program, Google considered adding a landline phone service to the package - much like Comcast and Time Warner Cable offer internet, TV and phone services to customers in bundles.
The tidbit of information was dropped by the company's Vice President of Google Access Services, Milo Medin, at the CityAge Summit conference and confirmed to TechRadar by a Google press representative:
"Medin ... mentioned at a conference that we considered a triple play option, but ultimately chose to just offer internet and TV," the rep said.
It seems Google looked into creating a Voice over internet Protocol (VoIP) service the same time it was initiating the fiber experiment.
Medin said the service could have launched already with little cost, but the G-team ran into regulatory roadblocks.
"We looked at doing that. The cost of actually delivering telephone services is almost nothing," Medin said, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. "However, in the United States, there are all of these special rules that apply."
Medin said it would have taken a lot of effort for Google to work out a billing system between the different state tax codes of Kansas and Missouri.
He also said he didn't think dropping the phone service hurt Google Fiber's popularity and it's working "really well for a product that aims to be disruptive."
The road ahead
When asked what markets Google Fiber will venture into next, Medin wasn't so chatty. There have been reports that Google is talking with satellite TV provider Dish Network to offer some sort of wireless phone service to compete with AT&T and Verizon.
But if those claims are true, the discussions are reportedly still in the early stages and may not amount to anything.
Even though Google Fiber ditched its phone plans, at least subscribers in some parts of the country have access to a super speedy Skype connection.