We’ve been hearing rumors of Google’s intention to step into the wireless carrier market as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). Google’s Nick Fox is helming the project, which is codenamed Nova.
None other than Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps, has now confirmed what was previously just a rumor. But before you start envisioning the prospects of Google doing for wireless what it has done for home Internet connections (a la Google Fiber), you might want to tamper your expectations just a bit. During a live talk at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Pichai explained that its efforts in wireless will mirror its efforts in Nexus hardware, “[pushing] the boundary of what's next” with a service that won’t rival the vast scale of existing market players.
“It's a very small scale compared to the rest of the OEM industry, but it pushes the needle,” Pichai continued. “I think we're at the stage where we need to think of hardware, software, and connectivity together.
“We don't intend to be a carrier at scale, and we're working with existing partners. You'll see some of our ideas come to fruit in the next few months.”
Pichai explained that Google has talked to all major U.S. carriers about its push into wireless territory, but earlier reports have suggest that the Google has already selected Sprint and T-Mobile to get its MVNO service off the ground.
While Pichai completely sidestepped a question about whether this move into wireless would help drive down prices, he stated that Google hopes to drive innovation including technology that would automatically reconnect calls if “someone drops on one end.” Other technology previously discussed includes the ability to seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi calling at home or your office to a traditional cellular network once beyond the safety net of wireless router. While T-Mobile already allows its wireless subscribers to enjoy this functionality, Google’s service would reportedly allow customers to hop between two different carriers’ tower (i.e. both Sprint and T-Mobile) based on signal strength.
I’m all for innovation in the wireless space, so it’s good to see that Google is committed to shaking things up a bit. And if Google manages to somehow put downward pressure on wireless plan pricing, you won’t hear any complaints from me.