Google is making some big moves involving Google Fiber, its plan to bring fast fiber-optic internet connections to the US.
Most recently, the company hired Gabriel Stricker into a new role running policy and communications for the group.
Google Fiber, led by former Qualcomm executive Dennis Kish, launched in 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas, and has since expanded to a handful of other small cities, including Austin, Nashville, and Salt Lake City. But earlier this month, Google announced plans to expand to LA and Chicago — the second- and third-largest US cities, respectively.
Google Fiber is technically no longer part of Google but was spun off into a separate company within Alphabet, the new larger holding company that includes Google's core online, advertising, and Android businesses — still called Google — plus newer "moonshot" projects like self-driving cars.
The fact that Alphabet sees the need for a dedicated policy and communications person suggests that it's turning Fiber from an experiment — and a way to spur internet providers to offer faster access — into a serious business.
Google's capital expenditures increased dramatically between 2013 and 2014 — they've since leveled off — and while new Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said that most of its capex was spent on the core Google businesses, she also said that capex will increase further as the company begins to expand into new areas: "In particular in Access and Energy, which contains our Fiber business among other efforts."
In fact, it's possible that part of the reason for the new Alphabet structure was to explain this rising capex as an investment in a new business rather than a simple expansion of its data centers.
Google and Comcast also hold different positions on policies like net neutrality.
Google, as one of the biggest web-content providers, has a natural business desire for all internet traffic to be treated the same way, and not to allow service providers to charge extra money to make certain content flow faster.
Comcast has said that it basically agrees with the current policy, but has held firm against changes to the law that would force Comcast and other internet providers to be regulated like telephone carriers.
Stricker was one of the leaders of Google's communications group back in its fast-growth days, and Nicholas Carlson's "Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo" credited Stricker with helping Google shine the spotlight on Mayer back when they were both at the company.
Stricker left Google in 2012 to head up Twitter's communications policy, but left earlier this year when cofounder Jack Dorsey reclaimed the CEO reins.
Below is Stricker's tweet announcing the news. He had no further comment.