How Google may become a wireless carrier of its own
Google’s interests continue to grow year after year: from search, to phones, to self-driving cars, to fiber optic internet. On the phone side, Google already runs development of its operating system, sells its own brand of Android hardware, and publishes its own apps – really, all that’s left for it to become a one-stop-smartphone-stop is delivering the wireless connectivity phones need to get online. We’ve heard rumors about the company expanding into the carrier space for some time now, with the most recent round surfacing last spring amidst claims that Google might launch an MVNO that would resell access to existing networks. That idea’s back in the news today, as a report gets more specific about Google’s possible intentions.
Supposedly, Google’s looking at T-Mobile and Sprint as the carriers from which it would buy access to their networks. The whole thing’s rumored to be in the works under the codename Nova, though details are still quite unclear: for instance, we don’t know if this Google cellular service might only be offered with Nexus phones, or if Google might sell SIMs that could be used with existing hardware. Especially with that latter idea, technical issues with Sprint’s CDMA system have us wondering just how feasible it might be.
But word is that one way or another, Google intends to get this service started sometime later this year. One big question we hope to have answered by then is what this program might mean for cellular service pricing – Google has a reputation of making things available quite affordably, but as an MVNO its ability to do so could be heavily limited by just how low T-Mobile and Sprint are willing to price wholesale access to their networks. As a result, it might be worth withholding excitement about this rumor not just until it’s confirmed, but until we hear any details about how it might be superior to existing service options from established carriers.