Google Fiber is leaving its original managed IPTV service even further in the dust.
Having already shifted its video focus to pay-TV streaming services such as FuboTV, Philo and Sling TV and the company’s own YouTube TV, Google Fiber has followed with a free upgrade program that will result in swapping out its Fiber TV boxes for the new Chromecast with Google TV, a small streaming device that runs Android TV but integrates the new Google TV UI and supports a multitude of apps from Google Play.
Google Fiber is pairing the video device swap with a free home network/routing change to its Google WiFi product/platform.Google Fiber’s device upgrade plan tosses in a new 4K-capable streaming device along with a new home Wi-Fi system.
(Image source: Google)
The free tech swap comes a few months after Google Fiber tried out the idea with about 50 households in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Thanks to our testers, we’ve learned a lot about how to make this process easy for our customers. So today, we’re making this offer available to all existing Fiber TV customers in every Google Fiber City,” Lisa Hsu, Google Fiber’s director of product strategy, explained in this blog post, which links to a site where Google Fiber customers can start the upgrade process.
The original pay-TV product for Google Fiber relies on a set-top box/client device to operate a managed IPTV service that started at about $105 per month, and carried a monthly rental fee of $10 for each additional box that customers needed. That legacy box also does not do 4K video or support voice search and navigation (the new Chromecast device does), was limited by local DVR storage and, despite being IP-based, was only integrated with a few third-party apps like Netflix and Vudu. The new product has access to Google Play apps and OTT-TV services that offer cloud DVRs.
While the upgrade move will provide more advanced video tech to its broadband customers in all Google Fiber markets, it also enables Google to push its new streaming product, which sells for $50 at retail, as Android TV/Google TV continues to grapple with competitors such as Roku, Fire TV (Amazon), Apple (tvOS), as well as TV manufacturers such as Samsung and LG that have their own streaming platforms.