Google's IPTV ambitions bolstered by STB plans

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 06-06-2012

Rumours of Google's long-term IPTV plans got another shot in the arm this week with the news that a Google-developed set-top box (STB) has been submitted to the FCC for approval.

Google, which owns rings of dark fibre in various regions in the U.S., has stated plans to deliver 1Gbps in ultra-broadband to Kansas City-area homes in the second half of the year. However, the company has been silent on the TV aspect of its service offering, although it has also secured IPTV licences from the Missouri and Kansas Public Service Commissions.

The new 'GFHD100' IP STB, submitted under the entity known as Google Fibre, lends further credence to the idea of Google IPTV, of course. The plans submitted to the FCC call for a range of functionality, including Wi-Fi, IR, USB, Ethernet, HDMI and even coax. The box is made by Humax.

Google also recently applied for an FCC license to set up a satellite farm in Iowa, which could be used for beaming TV signals directly to its fibre node for delivery across the country.

Google has made no bones about wanting to play in the TV space, leveraging its Google TV interface and a range of third-party CE partnerships to get itself embedded in a few connected TVs and set-tops to date. The reactions have been mixed to the approach, which uses the Google search algorithm to deliver results from both broadcast and Web video services in response to a customer query. Piracy jitters and content carriage issues have inevitably raised their hydra-like heads, making Google's vision of an open, IP-enabled living room video experience a difficult one to make concrete in practice.

With the acquisition of Motorola Mobility however, Google's set-top activity could soon become much more active, with Android running a range of hardware.