2:10 PM -- Google's 1Gbit/s fiber-to-the-home experiment in the Kansas Cities will test an array of bandwidth-gobbling applications, and video will surely be among them. But is Google Fiber also teeing up a pay-TV service to compete with incumbent cable operator Time Warner Cable Inc. and the satellite guys?
It's becoming increasingly clear the answer is yes. Google's already obtained the OK from state regulators to build a video service in Missouri, and it has applied for video franchises in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan. And then there's that satellite farm that Google's developing in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (See Google Gets OK for Video Over Fiber.)
But, among more recent evidence, Engadget noticed that the Android creator has slipped an IP set-top box to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a look-see. According to the test report, the hi-def-capable IPTV box, made by Humax Co. Ltd. and called the GFHD100, packs in Wi-Fi and USB, Ethernet and HDMI ports. And, for good measure, it comes affixed with a Google Fiber sticker.
Google hasn't made any formal commitments to launch a pay-TV service, but the emergence of the Humax box will certainly stir up speculation that Google's got something cooking.
"We're still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber in Kansas City, and we have nothing to announce at this time," Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres noted in response to questions about the Humax device.
Google's network buildout has encountered some delays along the way, but fiber's already being strung ahead of a launch that could happen in the second half of the year. (See Google Fiber Goes 100 Miles & Counting , Google Calls KC Fiber-Ready and Google's Fiber Project Hits a Snag .)
But Google's not committing to the timing on the launch either. "We'll have an announcement about Google Fiber later this summer. We're very much in the middle of the construction phase," Wandres added.
If Humax's boxes don't work out for some reason, Google's got a pretty convenient second source for that equipment (along with video encoders and other video access gear) now, following its recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility. (See Google Closes $12.5B Motorola Deal .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable