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Summary:

Google is gearing up to bring fiber-fast broadband to Kansas City, and a device that could be key to these efforts just popped up the FCC’s website. The set-top box GFHD100 comes with a Google fiber logo – and looks very much like a Google TV device.

google fiber label

Google’s fiber plans are starting to take shape with the reveal of a yet-to-be launched residential gateway that popped up on the FCC’s website this week (hat tip to Engadget). The box, which is manufactured by Humax, spots a label featuring the Google Fiber logo, which suggests that it will be used in the company’s high-speed fiber network trial in Kansas City.

Of course, Google doesn’t want to say anything about the box. A Google spokesperson only sent me the following statement: “We’re still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber in Kansas City and we have nothing to announce at this time.”

The device goes by the name GFHD100, and details remain scarce: Key documents were redacted for confidentiality, so we won’t get to see the user’s manual or any schematics. However, the test report reveals that the box is an “IP set-top box” that comes with at least one USB port, an Ethernet port, AV out, IR, WiFi, an Ethernet-Coax bridge and HDMI in and out.

There are two things worth noting about this kind of set-up: The wireless module used in the device is produced by Samsung and goes by the name of SWB-B70. It doesn’t seem to be in use in any WiFi-certified devices yet, and it’s very likely that the chip will support gigabit WiFi speeds. Google had asked the FCC to authorize the use of gigabit WiFi for its fiber trials in February.

The other interesting nugget is the use of HDMI in and out ports. That smells very much like Google TV, which has been using this kind of daisy-chaining to combine legacy devices with Android apps. We already know that Google wants to offer TV services through its fiber network in Kansas City, and this revelation indicates that these services will be based on Google TV. Of course, Google’s TV services would likely be IP-based, but the HDMI input port would still help to connect legacy devices to a TV without interrupting the Google TV experience.

Google has been planing to use its Google TV platform for cable set-top boxes for some time, and its acquisition of Motorola Mobility last month seemingly opened the doors for such a move. However, many cable operators are resisting the idea to add an open platform to their boxes, and there have been reports indicating that Google might simply sell off Motorola’s set-top box business. Maybe the company needs to go through the troubles of building its own broadband infrastructure to make a Google TV-powered video service work?

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  1. The part number seems to be a direct descendant from their SageTV purchase. SageTV had 3 boxes, starting initially with the HD100, and ending with the HD300 shortly before Google acquired them. The GF stands for Google Fiber.

    I still operate a SageTV setup at home, and have both an HD100 and an HD300 box. Both have HDMI and are used exactly like a Windows Media Center Extender box, to display content without having a computer in the living room.

    My guess is that these new boxes will be used to offer a hybrid of what SageTV used to offer, what GoogleTV offers, and a cloud based offering for storage and maybe even recording. Collectively, these three components are now just GoogleTV and will work with any high speed internet connection. Just a guess though.

  2. Still puzzling what their end-game is. Given Verizon’s experience with FIOS and how time-consuming it is to re-wire houses in the US, I wonder how Google is hoping this will play out.

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