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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 (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
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