Google Lays Groundwork for Long-Anticipated TV Offering
February 23, 2012
By Jacqueline Lee
, Contributing Writer
Google (News - Alert) has begun laying fiber-optic cables on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of Kansas City. When the infrastructure is done, the company says, they will be able to provide Internet access at speeds 100 times faster than those most people experience today. However, many analysts believe that this fiber-optic system means the beginning of Google’s long-anticipated entrance into the cable market. And that makes Kansas City Ground Zero.
Google has been coy about their plans for Kansas City. “We're still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber,” said Google spokesperson Jenna Wandres. However, a media insider told The Wall Street Journal that Google could launch its service within one to two months. The insider is an executive currently involved in negotiations to license channels to the service.
According to the source, Google’s service will include live TV, on-demand and online access to TV channels. Rumors also state that Google wants to expand their TV service beyond Kansas City to markets that Verizon (News - Alert) has not yet penetrated with its FiOS Fiber-optic TV service.
The New York Post reported earlier that Google had applied to the Missouri Public Service Commission to deliver video services to Kansas City residents. If Google follows through with the launch, then it would place itself in close competition with cable companies like Time Warner (News - Alert) as well as with satellite providers in the area.
In addition to the revenue that the company would generate from the launch, the multi-platform giant could also obtain rights to sell ads alongside some of the video content. Last year, the WSJ estimates that Google made around $40 billion by selling online ads.
Google has also invested $125 million into creating premium online content via YouTube (News - Alert). As more cable and TV boxes become connected to the web, Google predicts that more and more people will watch premium YouTube content on their TV sets.
Both Google and Apple may be working on ways to allow users to control their televisions via voice command. Many believe that Apple’s (News - Alert) iTV, which will obey voice commands a la Siri, could be released sometime this year. Google also wants to enable Google TV software obey a variety of voice commands from users.
In the meantime, all eyes will be on Kansas City. In exchange for access to Kansas City, Google will offer free Internet access to almost 450 schools and government offices in the metro area. Reasonably priced bundles of phone, TV and screaming fast Internet could easily tempt users away from their current cable subscribers.
Edited by Jennifer Russell