Google is building a 1 Gbps FTTH network in Kansas City, with service expected to begin sometime later this year. There is growing speculation that Google intends to offer video as a part of a triple play bundle on this network.
A report by the Kansas City Star reveals that Google has applied for a license from the FCC to operate a video capture facility or “antenna farm” as they label it, for a Council Bluffs, Iowa location. Council Bluffs is about 180 miles away from Kansas City. Telecompetitor has recently learned that there is indeed an IPTV capable headend construction project about to begin in Council Bluffs, IA. Coincidence? Maybe.
Here is where it gets interesting. If that project is for Google, why Council Bluffs and not Kansas City? The proximity makes it a logical choice for Kansas City, but for what or where else? Could this facility power more than just a Kansas City video operation for Google?
When you think of all the video assets Google now controls, you could come to the conclusion that a Council Bluffs, Iowa based headend could power much more than just a video play in Kansas City. They have Google TV, YouTube, the Android App Marketplace, and soon Motorola, who happens to be a part of North America’s set-top-box duopoly. Combine all of those assets with a new super headend based ‘smack dab’ in the middle of the country, and the possibilities are quite interesting indeed.
Perhaps Google intends to use all of these assets for a new nationwide OTT type offer, feeding televisions, tablets, and smartphones that run Android (or any other OS for that matter). Or maybe they have plans to wholesale a video offer to other service providers. Or maybe it’s just to focus on the Kansas City project. Of course, this is all speculation on our part, since Google hasn’t confirmed anything, telling the Kansas City Star, “We’re still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber.”
One thing is for sure. Should Google decide to offer some form of a video package in Kansas City, or elsewhere, it will be a glimpse into their vision of what video service should look like in an IP networked broadband world. I suspect that vision will add an injection of innovation into the legacy model that most of us enjoy today. Stay tuned.