Google to reportedly enter cellular service industry as MVNO running on Sprint, T-Mobile networks

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
A pair of reports on Wednesday claim Google is about to wade into the cellular network industry through deals with U.S. carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, a bold move that could push competitors to cut prices and boost data speeds.

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Citing sources with knowledge of Google's plans, The Wall Street Journal reports the Internet search giant is looking to strike deals with Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively the third- and fourth-largest mobile providers in the U.S., to hop on their network and sell branded cellular services directly to customers.

The project, identified by The Information as codename "Nova," is essentially a vanilla mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) scheme, except it's Google that is buying wholesale access to Sprint and T-Mobile's networks. Referred to as an experiment within Google, the initiative is reportedly designed to stoke carriers into lowering prices while delivering faster data speeds, sources said.

According to both reports, longtime executive Nick Fox is in charge of the project. The company first reached out to Sprint over a potential MVNO partnership 18 months ago and employees have already beta tested the service, but an understanding of Google's endgame has been elusive.

Given the Android maker's penchant for disruption, however, carriers have reportedly taken a wary approach to the proposed deal. Sprint, for example, is said to be inserting contract terms that trigger new negotiations if Google's customer base hits a certain level.

The Information's Amir Efrati believes a Google play for cellular network domination is unlikely, but notes the company is developing exotic data delivery technologies that could one day skirt carriers altogether. For example, Google X projects like Loon, which offers Web access via high-altitude balloons, are designed to bring more people in more countries online. Google recently told the FCC that high-frequency spectrum could be used for "the next generation of unlicensed broadband services" and "entirely new technologies and innovations."

Further, Google is known for lobbying government officials to free up regulated wireless spectrum for additional consumer networks. Most recently, Google sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission last week saying higher-frequency spectrum could be provisioned for "the next generation of unlicensed broadband services," as well as "entirely new technologies and innovations," the WSJ reports.

It is unclear when Google's MVNO will surface, if at all, but the company is reportedly planning to sell device and cellular service packages through an online storefront.

Apple was also rumored to be mulling its own MVNO during the iPhone's early days, with one report claiming late cofounder Steve Jobs wanted to built out an entire cell network dedicated to the handset. The company even filed for patents covering MVNO systems.

The iPhone quickly gained ground in the global smartphone market, however, and talk of an Apple-branded MVNO died down. In 2012, CEO Tim Cook said Apple doesn't need to "own the pipe," referring to investment in carrier networks. He noted that Apple is focused on delivering quality devices and would rather leave network operations to partner telcos.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 67
    It should also be noted that Google and Fidelity just bought a 10% stake in Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX. There is talk of SpaceX deploying their own fleet of satellites to create a satellite-based alternate Internet...an Exonet, if you will.

    http://www.cnet.com/news/google-reportedly-in-satellite-investment-talks-with-spacex/
  • Reply 2 of 67

    so everyone hates apple because it is popular, but no one is bothered by google becoming big brother?

     

    nsa's mission almost complete

  • Reply 3 of 67
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,083member
    It should be noted that The Information ran this same story a year ago, saying it would be Sprint and Verizon:

    https://www.theinformation.com/Google-Plots-Plunge-into-Mobile-Phone-Services

    I'm not saying the story is false, I'm saying Google has been chasing this thing since at least 2012 if not earlier, and this is maybe them getting a little closer, or not. I resent The Information for pretending that the story is new. There's a reason why I refer to them as "The Stock Manipulators."
  • Reply 4 of 67
    If you haven't got reception, can you use Google to search for a signal¿

    OT: that phone looks awful: rather large, quite thick, and the display has washed out colours.
  • Reply 5 of 67
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,349member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by revenant View Post

     

    so everyone hates apple because it is popular, but no one is bothered by google becoming big brother?

     

    nsa's mission almost complete




    A few people here are worried about that.

     

    Google becoming an MVNO makes sense following their business strategy, more so than buying a handset manufacturer (like Motorola). Everything you do on your phone goes through Google's system. Sure, your handset connects to Sprint/T-Mobile cellular towers, but it's relayed to Google's infrastructure.

     

    Your voicemails? On Google's servers. Your SMS messages? Through Google. Your MMS messages? Through Google. Your cellular data? Through Google. You don't even need to be using typical Google services, they can track you through SMS, MMS, voice, even cellular tower triangulation. All of this adds to their aggregate data so they can sell AdWords, the source of >95% of their revenue.

     

    They want to know more what you are doing with the electronic devices that you are interfacing with.

     

    They will make their service cheap or free (the latter perhaps with curtailed limits). Google doesn't need to make a profit off of MVNO services. They simply need better data to sell Google AdWords.

  • Reply 6 of 67
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,490member
    [QUOTE]
    They will make their service cheap or free (the latter perhaps with curtailed limits). Google doesn't need to make a profit off of MVNO services. They simply need better data to sell Google AdWords.
    [/QUOTE]
    In my country this might be classed as anticompetitive as it means other MVNOs would be unable to compete as Google making its money elsewhere and loss making or at least cost only in mobile services would destroy the competing MVNO margins. However, as it would lower prices, the argument could be made that the benefit to cosumers (price I'm talkng here, not the Google strings attached) outweighs the anticompetitiveness.

    It does hasten the day that carriers become big dumb pipes though and no longer try to sell services, which are done by MVNOs or third parties. T-mobile is building its business around that reality. It will take a long time for Verizon to recognise it,
  • Reply 7 of 67
    bighypebighype Posts: 148member
    No other company scares me as much as Google scares me. They're totally evil and hell-bent on dominating the world and everything around us.

    What I want to know is how are they not in court for being a monopoly?

    Dear AI members, degooglify your lives as much as possible. When a single company has this much data on people, they will use it to suck as much money out of you as possible and that data is also in the hands of the government. And government can now jail you for for all kind of minor infractions.
  • Reply 8 of 67
    There's no way the carriers would help Google here. I'm all for lowering prices, but it's not happening. This is going NOWHERE....like the Google Glass.

    In any case, there's no way I would use Google for cell service. I don't need them tracking my calls.
  • Reply 9 of 67
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    To me this seems unexpected, I'm interested to see what happens with this.
  • Reply 10 of 67
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    chasm wrote: »
    It should be noted that The Information ran this same story a year ago, saying it would be Sprint and Verizon:

    https://www.theinformation.com/Google-Plots-Plunge-into-Mobile-Phone-Services

    I'm not saying the story is false, I'm saying Google has been chasing this thing since at least 2012 if not earlier, and this is maybe them getting a little closer, or not. I resent The Information for pretending that the story is new. There's a reason why I refer to them as "The Stock Manipulators."

    Google stock was up over 2% yesterday. Of course this just gives the media more fodder for the Apple doesn't innovate meme. Now becoming an MVNO is innovation and something Apple should be doing with all its money. :rolleyes:
  • Reply 11 of 67
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    mpantone wrote: »
    They will make their service cheap or free (the latter perhaps with curtailed limits). Google doesn't need to make a profit off of MVNO services. They simply need better data to sell Google AdWords.[/COLOR]

    Would Google be allowed to do that? Wouldn't that basically put other MVNOs out of business?

    All this cheap/free stuff bothers me because it just devalues everything and makes people think they should get something for nothing. Look what dominates the App Store. All this fremium crap. So now people will be expecting unlimited data at super fast speeds for next to nothing whether it's sustainable or not.
  • Reply 12 of 67

    J6M (Jean Marie Messier, Moi Même, Maître du Monde (Jean Marie Messier, himself, master of the world)) ruined Vivendi , which was one of the wealthiest French companies, with this fantasy of merging the businesses of the pipes with the one of what goes through them !

     

    So, good luck Google !.....

  • Reply 13 of 67
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    Had always hoped Apple would do this, (way back at the time of the big 2008 spectrum auctions)

    Oh well. Had always looked forward to being an  iPhone Mobile™  customer.

  • Reply 14 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by revenant View Post

     

    so everyone hates apple because it is popular, but no one is bothered by google becoming big brother?

     

    nsa's mission almost complete


    Finally some one who feels the same way, i checked the comments over at the verge for a similar story and they are all cheering this and "cant wait" comments. people should be afraid of google buying everything 

  • Reply 15 of 67
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,866member
    In truth, if Eric hadn't stolen the iPhone IP I would still be a Google fan. I am happy enough to use their services when I want to and with Little Snitch and AsBlock I'm happy to fight for my own corner. Plus I am not paranoid about being tracked anyway. My tin foil hat is used to let steaks rest.

    I'm not against this latest move it if creates the competition required to force Verizon et al to upgrade to Hong Kong type speeds and reduce prices. There is something seriously going wrong with the free enterprise model in this country in quite a few areas that being one of them. I have also long wanted to see someone take on and have similar results with the cable companies, along with Netflix I had hoped Apple was the white knight in waiting.

    So, all in all along with continued net neutrality, I see this as good news.
  • Reply 16 of 67
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    My tin foil hat is used to let steaks rest.

    Ha!
    So, all in all along with continued net neutrality, I see this as good news.

    Also if this happens:

    “Your wife will be right back on the phone…after these words from our sponsors”
  • Reply 17 of 67
    Where does wifi factor into this?
    And why aren't there multinational MVNOs?

    We need handsets that use wifi for most calls, switch to cellular very cleanly when wifi quality drops, and uses the stratosphere towers when out of cellular range (or to augment data provision).
  • Reply 18 of 67
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,866member
    philboogie wrote: »
    Ha!
    Also if this happens:

    “Your wife will be right back on the phone…after these words from our sponsors”

    As a semi-retired person these days I hardly ever use the phone as a phone, so I'm OK :) I always let it go to VM so i can think of a good excuse reply first. ;) If I want to contact my wife I use iMessage. After so long using email I find instant communications annoying, as I say, I prefer to contemplate anything before replying, emergencies excepted of course.

    Of course in voicing support i am hedging my bets. In case Google achieve world domination I want it on record i did say a few good words ;)
  • Reply 19 of 67
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    As a semi-retired person these days I hardly ever use the phone as a phone, so I'm OK :) I always let it go to VM so i can think of a good excuse reply first. ;) If I want to contact my wife I use iMessage. After so long using email I find instant communications annoying, as I say, I prefer to contemplate anything before replying, emergencies excepted of course.

    A well-thought answer. And swiftly!
    Of course in voicing support i am hedging my bets. In case Google achieve world domination I want it on record i did say a few good words ;)

    So noted!
  • Reply 20 of 67

    Hopefully this puts pressure on telecoms to push performance at a reduced price.

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