Google lifts curtain on Fiber TV

Google's Fiber TV box

Google's Fiber TV box

Google has officially launched its new Fiber TV service, available over the new fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network it has built in Kansas City and offering over 160 linear channels, video-on-demand and online content, along with a mighty 2 TB Personal Video Recorder and a free Nexus 7 tablet to control it all.

The service also has a mighty high price attached – there is a US$ 300 connection charge and a US$ 120 per month service charge (although the connection fee is waived for customers who sign up for a two-year contract).

The service includes many of the most popular US cable channels (full list here), but misses out on some key channels such as ESPN, TNT, HBO and AMC, home of popular shows like ‘Mad Men’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Sporstscenter’.

In return for their hefty monthly outlay, customers will receive a dedicated Network Box, featuring a four-port gigabit Ethernet router and 802.11n WiFi, a TV Box with Wi-Fi connectivity, and a Storage Box DVR with 2TB of data and the ability to record eight shows at once.

Also bundled in is the new Nexus 7 Android tablet, which will act as the remote control for the service, and a free terabyte of storage in Google’s cloud locker, G Drive. Google will also release an iOS app for controlling the Google Fiber TV service on iPhones or iPads.

Analyst reaction to the service launch appears to be mostly positive, although Tony Brown, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News), warns that the service will struggle to displace established pay TV operators from homes in its Kansas City FTTH network area.

“The experience of IPTV players in mature high-speed Asian broadband markets such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan is that it is near impossible to push incumbent pay-TV operators out of subscriber homes unless you are able to replicate or even better their existing content platforms,” says the Informa analyst.

“Lessons from the pioneering Asian markets suggest that subscribers are happy to take an IPTV service on offer from their FTTH provider – but will in the vast majority of cases choose to hang onto their existing pay-TV connection to ensure they retain access to all their favourite channels.”

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