Courtesy Google Fiber

Google Fiber announced in a blog post on Thursday that the company will abruptly discontinue service in Louisville as of April 15, less than two years after the company announced its official rollout of gigabit internet services in the city.

“After a lot of analysis, we’ve made the tough decision to leave Louisville, Kentucky,” stated the Google Fiber blog post. “As we told our customers today, we will be turning off the network on April 15 and their next two months of service are on us.”

Explaining the decision, Google Fiber wrote that it was “trialing a lot of things in Louisville,” such as placing fiber in much shallower trenches than it had done in other cities, but “innovating means learning, and sometimes, unfortunately, you learn by failing.”

“In Louisville, we’ve encountered challenges that have been disruptive to residents and caused service issues for our customers,” stated the post. “We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Fiber cities. We would need to essentially rebuild our entire network in Louisville to provide the great service that Google Fiber is known for, and that’s just not the right business decision for us.”

Google Fiber had built a relatively small footprint in Louisville, mostly present in the Highlands area, where residents complained of shallow and sometimes exposed power lines buried in the neighborhood.

Customers of Google Fiber in Kansas City have expressed growing frustration with its services, as a winter storm recently knocked out their internet services for two weeks.

Google Fiber’s decision to expand to Louisville was a point of pride for Mayor Greg Fischer, who pushed Metro Council to pass legislation that would make it easier for the company to access power lines.

In a statement, Fischer’s spokeswoman Jean Porter stated that Google Fiber’s presence, as short as it was, at least spurred competition and progress among other high-speed internet service providers.

“From the time Louisville Metro began working with Google Fiber, we’ve believed that adding this service as a choice for residents would lead other providers to offer better services, faster speeds and lower costs. Competition is good for a market,” stated Porter. “AT&T, Spectrum, and others have stepped up and increased investment in Louisville. We look forward to working with them and others to provide residents with choices for low-cost, gigabit-speed internet access. We are also excited by our expansion of internet network capacity through the LFIT middle mile fiber initiative and 5G wireless coverage.”

The ordinance passed by Metro Council in February of 2016 to lure Google Fiber to the city brought forth a lawsuit by AT&T, which was dismissed by a federal judge in August of the following year.

Joe Burgan, a local spokesman for AT&T, issued a statement that did not reference Google Fiber but noted that the company first announced ultra-fast internet speeds available in parts of Louisville in October 2016, with its AT&T Fiber network now “available at nearly 175,000 Louisville area homes and small businesses, and growing.”

This story has been updated.

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]