Google talks about offering its own cellular service

Google logoGoogle Senior VP Sundar Pichai today discussed a possible wireless service that Google could launch in the next few months.

"We don't intend to be a carrier at scale, and we're working with existing partners," Pichai said in a public Q&A session at Mobile World Congress, according to The Verge. "You'll see some of our ideas come to fruit in the next few months." Pichai oversees Android, Chrome, and Google Apps.

The Information reported last month that Google plans to become an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), reselling Sprint and T-Mobile network capacity to consumers rather than building out its own cell towers. "Google is preparing to sell mobile phone plans directly to customers and manage their calls and mobile data over a cellular network, according to three people with knowledge of the plans," the site reported at the time.

When asked if Verizon Wireless and AT&T will object, Pichai said, "We've talked with them about all this, we're working with some partners to do what we're doing. Carriers in the US are what powers most of our Android phones and that model works really well for us."

"It's a very small scale compared to the rest of the OEM industry, but it pushes the needle," Pichai also said. "I think we're at the stage where we need to think of hardware, software, and connectivity together. Especially with things like watches."

It's likely to be a US-only service, according to the International Business Times. "Pichai... said that the network would be on a relatively small scale and launched to push features it hopes other mobile phone operators would adopt themselves," the site reported today. "Pichai didn't go into huge detail during his keynote in Barcelona, but mentioned that among the selling points of its network will be making cellular and Wi-Fi seamless, and it also wants to automatically reconnect dropped calls."

Google offers its own fiber Internet service in a few cities and is working on delivering wireless Internet connectivity to homes in far-flung areas with a network of balloons and with drones.

Project Loon, the balloon system, "is a huge undertaking, and we've made huge progress," Pichai said, according to the Verge. Two years ago, we could barely keep the balloon up for three days, and it served 3G." Loon has since upgraded to 4G LTE. "We've started large scale testing with Vodafone, Telstra, Telefonica... We think with Loon we can bring connectivity to many rural areas in the world," Pichai said.

Google's drone plans go by the name of "Project Titan."

"In the next couple of months, Project Titan will begin its first test flights and will integrate with Project Loon to cover a wider area," the International Business Times wrote. "Pichai said that these technologies had a role to play in developing countries too, especially in urban areas and in emergency response situations."

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Google, mobile communications

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