March 2, 2015
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It's official: Google has confirmed plans to launch its own wireless service.
In his keynote at this week's Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Sundar Pichai, Google's SVP of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps, addressed the industry buzz claiming that Google was trying to become a wireless carrier, which has been popping up in the tech world for some time.
In January 2015, Google signed a deal with Sprint and T-Mobile for a new wireless service that would leverage both cellular and WiFi to hunt down stronger connections. Its intention was not to slash prices, but to interfere with customer reliance on national wireless network operators.
Pichai explained in his MWC keynote that in coming months Google will make an announcement on its new project to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). An MVNO does not own the wireless infrastructure over which it provides services to customers, but rather licenses it from existing wireless carriers. Pichai compared this initiative to Google’s Nexus project in the hardware space.
[See what else is in the works at Google. Read 8 Google Projects to Watch in 2015.]
Google's foray into the wireless sector should not be perceived as a competitive threat to major carriers, Pichai said. Rather, the search and software giant wants to use this program as a means to test innovation across hardware and software platforms. This is simply a means of developing innovations on a small scale and keeping the public posted on its progress, he explained.
"We're at a stage where we need to think of hardware, software, and connectivity together," said Pichai, according to a live blog from The Verge. "We don't intend to be a carrier at scale, and we're working with existing partners."
So should major US wireless carriers be worried? Not yet. Google's latest project is small now, but it has massive implications for the future of Android and a wireless industry that has long been under the control of Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
"They know what we are doing," said Pichai, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. "In the end, partners like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. are what powers most of our Android phones. And the model works extremely well for us. And so there's no reason for us to course correct."
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