After failed efforts to bring ultra-high speed internet to Louisville, Kentucky, Google Fiber will pay the city nearly $4 million to help repair damages it caused.
The package — which will be paid out over the next 20 months — came as a result of the company agreeing to leave the streets in the same, or better, condition than before it started digging trenches and laying cables in 2017, according to a WDRB report.
The tech giant will also donate $150,000 to a local organization that focuses on “digital inclusion” efforts, including restoring used computers for low-income residents.
Fiber announced it would be sunsetting its Louisville operation in February, a little over one year after launching. The company cited challenges, particularly regarding its method of laying cables only inches below the surface (known as “micro-trenching”), as the reason for its departure. City residents complained of sloppy installations, and as wires became fully exposed on the streets, some ultimately viewed Google’s efforts as a safety threat.
“Innovating means learning, and sometimes, unfortunately, you learn by failing,” Fiber said in February. “In Louisville, we’ve encountered challenges that have been disruptive to residents and caused service issues for our customers.”
Louisville is the first city in which Fiber has shut down its efforts. Fiber — which is run by Access, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet — still operates in 11 cities today, including Kansas City, Austin, and Nashville.
The Louisville departure is just one of a number of setbacks for the Google Fiber initiative, after losing hundreds of employees to other Alphabet departments in 2017 and weathering major shake-ups at the top. When Dinesh Jain became the new Access CEO in February 2018, he became the third chief exec at the company in just over one year.
Google has shifted much of its broadband Internet access efforts to wireless technologies, which don’t require the costly and time-consuming work of digging up streets and laying cable.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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