Charter Hits Rival Google Fiber for Abandoning Customers
As Google has struggled increasingly to maintain momentum in its seven-year effort to break into the home Internet service business, competitors are sensing it may be time to pounce.
Charter Communications, the second-largest home broadband provider in the country after Comcast (CMCSA), has started running newspaper advertisements in Kansas City where it competes head-to-head with Google’s Fiber service mocking its rivals recent struggles.
“Abandoned by Google,” the ad begins in large, colorful type resembling Google’s logo. “Kansas City residents have Fiber accounts canceled.” The ad then recounts chronologically how Google took orders starting in 2011 for home Internet service but last year stopped expanding and even canceled some almost-two-year-old orders from customers in Kansas City this year.
Fortune reached out to Charter for comment and will update this story if any is received.
Google said it was still active in the Kansas City market. “Google Fiber loves Kansas City and we’re there to stay,” the company said in a statement, noting recent neighborhood expansions to Raymore and Overland Park. “We’ve been grateful to be part of the community since 2011, and for the opportunity to provide superfast Internet to residents.”
Charter (CHTR) acquired its local Kansas City customers when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in May last year. Time Warner was infamous in the region for poor customer service, so Charter has moved quickly to rebrand its acquired markets in the midwest, including Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Cleveland, with its Spectrum Internet service. The push aimed at reducing customer defections and cord cutting, at a time when Google may have trouble responding.
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Google Fiber, started in 2010, once aimed to sign up millions of customers for super-fast home Internet service, feeding further use of Google services and prompting other Internet service providers to speed up their offerings. But the economics never added up and Google has curtailed its aspirations for the service, while it seeks to shift to a wireless-delivered home service. Amid layoffs, rumors circulated last year that the Fiber effort, now a part of Google’s Access unit under its holding company Alphabet, might be spun off or sold.
Google Is Holding Off on Expanding Google Fiber:
More bad press for Google (GOOGL) cropped in Kansas City last month when a number of customers–the company won’t say exactly how many–who had been waiting for service got cancellation notices. Google said it was still expanding into other neighborhoods of the city, such as Raymore and Overland Park.
(Update: This story was updated on April 18 with a comment from Google.)