Google MVNO Service Would Dynamically Choose Wireless Carrier Based On Signal Quality

We first brought you news of Google’s efforts to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) last week. According to sources for The Information, Google has plans to partner with both Sprint and T-Mobile (America’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers respectively) to provide voice and data service. Google’s Nick Fox is reportedly leading the development of the MVNO, which is currently operating under the codename Nova.

A new report from The Wall Street Journal is shedding some more light on the service, which is expected to be available nationwide as early as the first half of 2015. According to the usual “people familiar with the plan,” Google’s MVNO would use intriguing new technology that would allow a smartphone to route call, texts, and data based on the signal strength of the Wi-Fi connection and available cell towers.

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For example, if you’re sitting at home (or in your office) and have access to a very strong Wi-Fi connection, your smartphone would route calls and texts through your ISP. That’s really nothing new; wireless carriers like T-Mobile already have provisions for Wi-Fi calling functionality. But where things get really interesting is when you’re out and about, and are at the whim of available cell towers. In this case, your phone would connect to the strongest signal available to make a call or send a text — it doesn’t matter if it’s Sprint or T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint by themselves aren’t exactly known for outstanding nationwide coverage, but if a subscriber could take advantage of the combined forces of both networks, things could get a bit more interesting. And Google’s entry into the market could spark a brand new pricing war that could be advantageous to customers.

“It’s a very aggressive move,” said Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “You can imagine Google driving down the price to be disruptive and paying for it with revenue from other services that the company already provides, like search and advertising.”

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of Google as an MVNO when I heard that only Sprint and T-Mobile would be along for the ride. But with this recent revelation, I’m actually eager to see how Google plans to shakeup the wireless market… hopefully for the better.


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