According to a report from The Information, Google is working to become a carrier by building its own wireless service. Several sources note that the project (codenamed Project Nova) is underway and the service will piggyback on the existing networks of T-Mobile and Sprint.
Purchasing bandwidth from two of the four national U.S. carriers would allow Google to launch an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). By doing this, Google would be a wireless carrier that would be able to sell phone plans to consumers.
“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 new service is expected run on Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, two people familiar with the product say. Google is expected to reach deals to buy wholesale access to those carriers’ mobile voice and data networks.”
Google has shown interest in providing internet service directly to customers over the past several years. For example, Google Fiber, which aims to provide high quality internet access to consumers, and Project Loon, which aims to connect people in rural areas.
Many giants in Silicon Valley, including Apple and Google, have been rumoured to be working on their own wireless service for several years. The upside for the company is that if they control the network, Google would be able to control the experience on the devices and services they sell.
Project Nova aims to aggregate multiple carriers to provide users with a better experience by providing a larger coverage footprint. According to the report, Google is trying to get creative with plan pricing by experimenting with “communication apps.” Little is known about what those may entail, however, a modern day example would be Google Voice which allows users to make cheap international calls.
“Google plans to shake up the U.S. wireless market by selling voice plans to consumers, through expected deals with T-Mobile and Sprint. It’s the latest example of how Google tries to prod incumbents to change their business to benefit Google.”
The report says that Google executive Nick Fox, who is in charge of Project Nova, wanted to launch the service last fall. It is still unclear when the company will make the announcement, however, sources point to an imminent release.