Alphabet is the new conglomeration that includes Google. It has been operating since August, although we’ll have to wait for the beginning of next year before we see its first financial figures. It will also be time when the company’s full earnings will be publicized, including Google itself and all the ‘other bets’ within Alphabet. The earnings report will offer some transparency in terms of what each unit costs and how they perform. Access and Energy is one of the ‘bets’ and we’ve been told that this is one to watch.
Google Fiber was launched about four years ago, long before anyone had heard of Alphabet. Patrick Pichette, who was then the CEO of Google, was planning to spin out the work of Google. However, this idea was shelved. Yet, it is clear that there were already some concerns about keeping things together. After Pichette, SVP Craig Barratt started looking at it. Barratt is now the CEO of Alphabet and it is clear that he is keen on making some changes. He found that there are too many projects in terms of energy, Internet access, robotics and telecommunications and that they are divided in a strange way, with some being part of Google and others being part of Google X.
One element of Access is Google Fiber, and that is a very successful project, while also being hugely capital expensive at an estimated $2 billion per year.
Google Fiber starts with a connection that’s up to 1,000 megabits per second. Super fast downloads. TV like no other. And endless possibilities.
It is likely that Alphabet will come up with a way to fit Fiber into the overall business in a more suitable way. It may stay part of Access and Energy, although they will soon be rebranded as well. Fiber’s founding ethos, however, is what makes it such a suitable fit for Access. Eric Schmidt, once CEO, was almost obsessed with making sure there were no more barriers between Google and its end customer or even in communication with the world.
Loyalty is not just to a nation but to friends and interests. That will change everything for citizens, states, and society. Cross-border linking isn’t just a glorified pen-pal movement. It’s the foundation of a global culture. I’ve always believed the Web is more than a network of machines. It’s a network of minds that’s evolving into a global conscience. The Web unites all of us in sentiment and action.
When Schmidt was making these statements, there was a huge player between regular users and Google, being Microsoft, who offered the browser and the operating system. The second player was the internet provider. This gap was filled by Fiber.
Things to Know About Access
So what is Access all about? At present, it contains a number of different elements. As stated earlier, there is Fiber, which is available in Provo (Utah), Kansas City (Missouri) and Austin (Texas). Six more cities are due to be added. Then, there is, OnHub.
We’re streaming and sharing in new ways our old routers were never built to handle. Meet OnHub, a router from Google that is built for all the ways you Wi-Fi.
Another important project is Project Link, which provides fiber internet to developing countries. The pilot project ran in Kampala, Uganda, and to date, some 700 kilometers of fiber have been built across this city. Additionally, a new system has been started in Ghana.
Then, there is the RailTel partnership between Google and public broadband provider RailTel from India. The goal is to make sure that some 400 railway stations in India will have a WiFi connection. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is the lead on this project, but it is part of Access.
Next, there is Project Sunroof.
Mapping the world’s solar potential, one roof at a time. Piloting in select areas in: San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno-Visalia, Napa, Sacramento, Long Island and Greater Boston.
Project Sunroof came out of a partnership Google had with SolarCity. The project is still very much under development, meaning people can only put their address in to receive a ‘personalized roof analysis’ of their home. The goal is to enable more people to purchase solar panels and it is believed that more functions will be added soon.
Finally, there is Project Titan. This came out of the purchase of Titan Aerospace, which fabricates solar-powered drones. While nothing has come out of this purchase yet, Project Titan was recently registered with the FAA. Two unmanned vehicles were registered in particular. This is not the same as Project Wing, however, which is the drone delivery system found in Google X.
What to Keep Your Eye On
Clearly, Access is a bit of a mix-match of different things. This could be because Alphabet itself is still quite nascent in nature. It doesn’t have a clear leader for its robotics, for instance, and Access could actually fit in quite well with that part of the conglomerate. Similarly, Google recently acquired Makani, the wind company, which should reasonably be part of Access but is currently still part of Google X.
Access is also very disparate because of Craig Barratt, the executive who is in charge of it.
Barratt is a native Australian who went to Stanford for his Ph.D. in electrical engineering; he holds 34 patents, according to the Wall Street Journal. He served as CEO of Wi-Fi chipset specialist Atheros from 2003 to 2011, when the company was acquired by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). Barratt stayed on at Qualcomm Atheros as president of the unit until February 2013–just a few months later he joined Google as a vice president.
Barratt has been described as being the stereotypical executive for Google. He is patient yet capable and, above all, a brilliant engineer. Plus, he is very close to the Alphabet CEO, which will help. Any telecom tech projects are almost automatically handed down to Barratt by Page.
Fiber has been taken over by Dennis Kish, who also worked at Qualcomm. However, many people still see it as Milo Medin’s brainchild, as he is the one who originally started it. Medin, while no longer leading on Fiber, is still active behind the scenes, working on policy issues with a particular focus on broadband competition and a number of, until now hidden, Access projects.