Google’s New Wireless Service

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On March 2, 2015, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google Inc., spoke during a keynote session at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Learn about the new wireless service from Google in the following article by Cade Mets, contributor with

Google says its new wireless service will operate on a much smaller scale than the Verizons and the AT&Ts of the world, providing a new way for relatively few people to make calls, trade texts, and access the good old internet via their smartphones. But the implications are still enormous.

Google revealed on Monday it will soon start “experimenting” with wireless services and the ways we use them—and that’s no small thing. Such Google experiments have a way of morphing into something far bigger, particularly when they involve tinkering with the infrastructure that drives the internet.

As time goes on, the company may expand the scope of its ambitions as a wireless carrier, much as it had done with its super-high-speed landline internet service, Google Fiber. But the larger point is that Google’s experiments—if you can call them that—will help push the rest of the market in the same direction. The market is already moving this way thanks to other notable tech names, including mobile carrier T-Mobile, mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, and serial Silicon Valley inventor Steve Perlman, who recently unveiled a faster breed of wireless network known as pCell.

At the moment, Google says, it hopes to provide ways for phones to more easily move between cellular networks and WiFi connections, perhaps even juggling calls between the two. Others, such as T-Mobile and Qualcomm, are working on much the same. But with the leverage of its Android mobile operating system and general internet clout, Google can push things even further. Eventually, the company may even drive the market towards new kinds of wireless networks altogether, networks that provide connections when you don’t have cellular or WiFi—or that significantly boost the speed of your cellular connection, as Perlman hopes to do.

Richard Doherty—the director of a technology consulting firm called Envisioneering, who is closely following the evolution of the world’s mobile networks—points out that the carriers still have clout of their own, and that in many cases they will push to keep wireless networking as it is. But he also says the carriers won’t stand by if looks like Google will eclipse their services. “Do they really want all this happening on Google, when they’re not getting a penny?” he asks.

‘In the Coming Months’

On Monday, at the massive Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Google big-wig Sundar Pichai revealed that the company will transform itself into a wireless carrier in “the coming months,” confirming earlier reports that it would sell wireless plans directly to smartphone buyers. And true to Google form, Pichai was careful to say that the company isn’t trying to compete with major carriers.

“Carriers in the US are what powers most of our Android phones,” he said, referring to the world of smartphones that run Google’s Android operating systems and all its associated Google apps. “That model works really well for us.”


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