Google is in the process of building a FTTP network in Kansas City that will deliver 1 Gbps service to the premise. They expect to begin offering service sometime in early 2012.

Many analysts, myself included, suspect that Google is building this network to function as a laboratory of sorts, introducing and trialing broadband applications that take full advantage of that available bandwidth. It appears these experiments may now also incude IPTV services.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is contemplating video services for their Kansas City network. The details are few, and I am assuming that should they move in this direction, they would choose IPTV, rather than a cable/RF platform. It is Google after all. Given the choice, how could they not select IP video?

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Google has been quite active in video for some time. They just recently launched the latest version of Google TV (which they hope energizes the slow adoption of the first version) and their YouTube unit is still the dominant OTT site. It only makes sense that they would add video to their broadband access network experiment. The question is what kind of video?

Will it be the traditional subscription video model? An experiment with some type of OTT model, subscription or otherwise? Or maybe a hybrid of both. For practical purposes, adding video that generates some type of revenue would seem to be smart. Building a 1 Gbps FTTP network is not cheap – they’ll need all the revenue they can get, assuming covering the cost of building and operating it is important to Google.

But like the premise of a laboratory for broadband access, the addition of video to Google’s Kansas City network will be well worth watching. Their ability to bring OTT, search, and unique advertising solutions to bear over their own broadband access network could make for some interesting experiments. Experiments which could have implications for the marketplace for video delivery as a whole.

Unlike traditional service providers, Google has the luxury of experimentation. Their core business is doing quite well, and despite the cost of the Kansas City network, it’s somewhat immaterial to Google’s overall bottom line.

 

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