SAN FRANCISCO — Google parent Alphabet is focusing on new cheaper wireless technology to beam ultra high-speed Internet into people's homes, executive chairman Eric Schmidt told shareholders during the company's annual meeting on Wednesday.
"To give you an idea of how serious this is," Schmidt said he had a "lengthy" meeting with Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat to discuss the technology on Tuesday.
"There appears to be a wireless solutions that are point to point that are inexpensive now because of the improvements in semiconductors," he said. "These point to point solutions are now cheaper than digging up your garden and so forth."
Google Fiber is experimenting with the technology in Kansas City and plans to have a test wireless network up and running by year's end. It's trying to solve what's called "the last mile problem" that requires laying fiber-optic cables.
The technological breakthrough: "They (the wireless solutions) can carry the gigabit performance," Schmidt said, that is the 1 gigabit per second Internet speed that Google Fiber delivers through fiber-optic cables in a handful of cities without the disruptive construction or high cost.
Google Fiber is working on wireless technologies to reduce the cost and increase the availability of high-speed Internet. Facebook is also experimenting with wireless technology. Both businesses rely on people spending time on the Internet.
"One of the things that is intriguing about wireless is that it allows you reach houses and users that are in lower density settings — where fiber becomes too expensive. So providing fixed wireless services using some of the technologies we think are ways of accelerating our deployments," Access CEO Craig Barratt, who oversees Fiber, told Recode in April. "We think, over time, there will be a sort of heterogeneous mix of technologies that we can use, depending upon the type of problem we’re trying to solve. But I want to make it clear that our focus on wireless technologies is really around fixed — so providing fixed wireless broadband."