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Google Fiber plans to use cheap wireless tech to beat the cable guys

CFO Ruth Porat gives the unit a shout-out.

Google’s Fiber launch in Provo, UT.
Google's Fiber launch in Provo, UT.
George Frey/Getty Images

Back in April, Recode told you about the next chapter in Google Fiber: An ambitious plan to beam wireless into homes.

Today, on Alphabet’s second-quarter earnings call, the company gave its most public acknowledgment that wireless is the linchpin of its strategy to take on the large cable and broadband industry.

“We continue to see Fiber as a huge market opportunity,” said CFO Ruth Porat, citing the company’s efforts to push “the frontier with tech applications.”

She continued: “We’re exploring both Fiber and wireless, and you may have seen our recent acquisition of Webpass.” Fiber snapped up the small internet provider Webpass, which relies on wireless tech to serve city markets.

Porat, being a Google executive, did not get into any details on Fiber’s plans here. She did reiterate that it is the biggest source of spending outside of the core Google business.

But let’s read between the lines: Bloomberg had a good piece this morning about how the unit plans to save costs using Webpass’ wireless business model, one that’s more efficient than the infrastructure-heavy fiber operations.

That’s consistent with the ethos of Alphabet chief Larry Page (who was not on the call and probably never will be again!). Page likes businesses that use technology to scale, rather than people. Digging up neighborhoods and installing fiber internet is people- and labor-intensive; the so-far-unproven wireless tech is not. So it’s not surprising that Fiber’s ultimate plan is to beat large cable providers with tech that others don’t have.

The good question here, which was asked on the call, is how Fiber plans to execute this wireless strategy. Porat didn’t answer that.

Read this next: Google Fiber is the most audacious part of the whole Alphabet

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