Google reportedly considering adding cellular service to Google Fiber cities

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Google Fiber is in the process of turning the cable internet service on its head with low-cost, high speed service, and according to a report from The Information (opens in new tab) (subscription required) Google is considering doing the same for mobile phone service. The report cites a range of options for Google, but the central premise revolves around a combination of a city-wide Wi-Fi network coupled with an MVNO agreement with a national carrier.

For Google, a mobile offering would fit neatly into CEO Larry Page's playbook. He hasn't been shy about discussing with subordinates his disdain for existing wireless carriers and telecom companies, who he believes have been much too slow to upgrade their networks and heavy-handed in trying to control the services that subscribers use on their devices.

That attitude fits in neatly with Google's launch of Google Fiber and the bidding of billions of dollars on the C block spectrum auction back in 2008 to ensure open access provisions would be enforced. But it also puts Google in an awkward position, as even a robust city-wide Wi-Fi network wouldn't be able to provide coverage everywhere within the municipal limits, let alone outside the city. As such, Google would have to rely on roaming agreements or an MVNO arrangement with a national carrier — requiring cooperation with the very industry they're aiming to disrupt.

Reportedly Google had discussed interest in an MVNO with Verizon in January, though it's unclear whether those discussions continued — though The Information says "me industry executives say it is unlikely that Verizon would willingly give Google access to its vaunted 4G network." They cite a network such as T-Mobile as being more open to such an idea. Considering how much T-Mobile has delighted in poking at its rivals as of late, it might not be surprising to see them partner up with Google to launch such an MVNO.

All of that said, none of this is official, and if Google does continue down this path they're likely a long way from launch. But, maybe Google getting into the cellular game is just the kind of disruption that's needed in this world.

Source: The Information (opens in new tab)

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • If Google were to buy Tmobile that would be interesting and it would give the capital needed to dominate the wireless industry
  • I would love it if they would do that providing they do not treat it like how they treated Motorolla. It means completely taking them over and running them as part of google instead of just a side company and that turned into failarolla
  • T-Mobile is not really dominating anything despite their aggressive approach recently. AT&T still enjoys far more customers and Verizon still increased their customer count despite T-Mobile affecting the other carriers. It's better for Google to get the big fish to make the biggest impact. Posted via Android Central App
  • I don't think so. I think T-Mobile would be the best option to increase coverage and have lower plan prices to get people to switch from the big carriers. Since Nexus devices already work on T-Mobile I think it just makes more sense for Google to get with T-Mo.
  • Somebody has to buy them. Google or Sprint are the best option. Dish is the worst.
    AFAIK it is still sprint which is a good thing. Especially as Motorola as an example
    You really should see the crap I don't post. Sorry if honesty offends you
  • [cough]Nextel[/cough]
  • No, I guess a better name will be - GoTel
    Like Go tell it on the mountains that Jesus Christ is born
  • What about it? They left that pos iden network up far longer than they should have -------------------------------------------
    You really should see the crap I don't post. Sorry if honesty offends you
  • That would rock. Posted from the surface of the moon using my LG Optimus G Pro on T-Mobile with 0 Death Star bloat...
  • Moving to Austin in November so this would be great. Hoping that I end up in a Fiberhood Posted via Android Central App
  • +1
  • A mvno that's likely only available in google fiber areas isn't going to be disruptive.
  • Verizon doesn't play nice with google and T-mobile's coverage is bad. ATT doesn't like competition. That leaves Sprint which has really bad speed issues. I doubt anything will come of this.
  • Sprint Spark LTE will be the fastest.
  • Yeah, I guess. The thing with Sprint is always what it is coming in the future. The same has been said since around 2010. Wimax is coming, LTE is coming. It is always what is coming with Sprint. I suppose in the future it may all actually come true it just seems like it is taking a long time.
  • Sprint LTE and Spark are already here. **Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!**
  • Wimax want bad, just that lightsquare couldn't deliver. LTE is being rolled out. The reason why it's taking longer than other carriers. While other carriers are just adding on panels for lte. Sprint is literally replacing everything. Panels base stations. Once they do that. The ISP's are behind in providing the backhaul(fiber to the tower). So replacing all legacy equipment. 3g is new. And lte being added. Posted via Android Central App
  • I am continually amazed at how people do not understand why sprint did that -------------------------------------------
    You really should see the crap I don't post. Sorry if honesty offends you
  • Spark has a 70 Mbps peak speed. Sprint said average speeds will be 5-16 Mbps... enough said. Posted on my Galaxy S III, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2013) or Gateway ID49C
  • T-Mobile's coverage is supposedly improving, and Google doesn't need the top nationwide carrier to disrupt the wireless industry. Besides, Google's tenacity (and resources) might be just what T-Mobile needs.
  • Yeah right tmo never improves unless they add towers to a big city -------------------------------------------
    You really should see the crap I don't post. Sorry if honesty offends you
  • Not bad for me
  • I might just have to up and move the family to a Fiber area. Posted via Android Central App
  • You have to live in a boring city to get Fiber. Posted via Android Central App
  • What! How could you call Provo Utah boring? It's only the most religious place in the States shows a poll :P
  • How about Austin Posted via Android Central App
  • I remember there being rumors a while back where we thought Google might buy spectrum that Dish was looking into buying. I always thought it'd be so cool because Google would put so much money behind T-Mobile's new spectrum that they acquired from Verizon and turn it into LTE within months instead of years. They would not allow it to be the 4th place carrier that it is right now. they would make sure the coverage grew exponentially basically over night and would keep the prices down and push unlocked, GPE and Nexus devices like nobody's business as a way to get the "real" Android experience into people's hands. Maybe this plus Android Solver will be their next big move Un-Carrier + Google = world peace lol.
  • I have been waiting for Google or Amazon to jump intro the Wireless Arena. They would face less scrutiny from regulators now that they've dumped Motorola. What about Dish and their spectrum? They like rocking the boat too!
  • Too bad it's only for Google Fiber cities. I hoped Google would buy Verizon to get the largest customer base first. Posted via Android Central App
  • Don't know if even Google could afford Big Red
  • You obviously don't know how much money Google has.
  • competition = good
  • A new power is rising
  • More like a monopoly trying to take over another market out of their reach. Posted via Android Central App
  • Clearly not a LOTR fan
  • I love it! Posted via Android Central App
  • If they were going to buy a company, Verizon would be the one to buy. Verizon would be out of their price range. Verizon Communications Inc. would have something to say about that.
    "How'd you get the beans above the frank?"
  • Do you know how big Verizon is? They are far out of Google's budget. Posted via Android Central App
  • Didn't I say that? "How'd you get the beans above the frank?"
  • People only read the parts they want to. Don't you know that?
  • Apparently "How'd you get the beans above the frank?"
  • its googles world, were just googling in it.
  • I'm not an expert on Cell Tower and Cell technologies, but doesn't a cell tower at some point connect into a hard data line? Wouldn't that mean Verizon has to partner with someone for those connections? With Google running and owning the Fiber hard lines couldn't that lead to a Google/Verizon partnership?
  • Google and Verizon partnering? That will be a dream for those two companies to get along. Posted via Android Central App
  • Why would Google partner with Verizon? they are the enemy of Android (granted, they did get Android started in the first place on its route to popularity). I get that the network is expansive, but Verizon has completely butchered a number of Android devices with the bloat.
  • I'd love for them to do the same deal they do with fiber, but for wireless. a $100 USD payment gives you unlimited minutes, text, and LTE data for life. $70 a month and you get LTE-A, 5G, 6G, etc as they rollout and the same amount of minutes, texts, and data. Posted on my Galaxy S III, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2013) or Gateway ID49C
  • That's a dream, but a dream I like. "How'd you get the beans above the frank?"
  • I'm still waiting for this day to come! Posted via Android Central App
  • I still do not understand why Google ditched Motorola, but is still keeping Google Fiber. What do they have to gain from operating as ISP in these cities?
  • Shut up and take my money! Google Fiber has expressed interest in coming to my metro area recently. I'm currently with T-Mobile, but if Google were to offer something similar, and was just as reliable, I wouldn't have issues with them as my provider. But I'm on the $30/mo T-Mobile 100 minutes/5GB data plan. This better be an amazing wireless plan, like unlimited everything for around $50/mo.
  • Google should just win the 600 MHz nationwide spectrum auction, and build their own network with the best spectrum available.
  • One main point when looking to buy a company, costs. Lets look at the market cap of the four major players in the US: 1. ATT: 185.5 Billion
    2. Verizon: 199.22 Billion
    3. Sprint: 21.6 Billion
    4. T-Mobile: 9.5 Billion Currently T-Mobile would be the lowest cost for entry. Google currently has about 58 Billion in Cash and total Assets of about 110 Billion. IF Google was to get into the wireless industry, I feel that it would go the same route as the formation of Verizon. No need to purchase the whole company but instead, buy about 45% of them. This would infuse a very large cash value into T-Mobile. Upcoming events that need cash:
    T-Mobile converting all of 2G network to LTE by mid 2015
    FCC 600 spectrum auction.
  • We badly android service provision Posted via Android Central App
  • I mean we need it badly. Posted via Android Central App