Google Wireless cellular announcement is imminent
Surprise! Did you think Google's Wireless service was going to take a while to get here? According to The Wall Street Journal, the service could launch as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22. Google has publicly talked about plans to launch an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) wireless service in March and said the service would see the light of day in "the next few months."
"Google Wireless" (not necessarily the official name) will resell network access to Sprint and T-Mobile, but with a few twists. The Journal says the system will seamlessly switch between T-Mobile, Sprint, and Wi-Fi (including for calls), depending on what is available, and that—get this—customers will only have to pay for the data they actually use, rather than purchase a set amount of data every month.
The service will, of course, be US only and at first will only work on the Nexus 6. Google isn't aiming for world domination here, just a small-scale, "Google Fiber"-style approach, where a disruptive new service puts pressure on existing services to lower prices and speed up service.
As the program is currently described, we think Google will have a hard time being "disruptive" when it's only reselling someone else's service. Any Sprint and T-Mobile MVNO would be at the mercy of… Sprint and T-Mobile. Google Fiber is disruptive because Google is using a different data delivery technology—fiber optic—and doing all the hard work of ground-up network building, which gives it full control over everything. By owning everything, Google can sell high speeds for low prices and shake up the competition in cities where it offers service. Reselling service on Sprint and T-Mobile's existing networks doesn't leave that much room to be different. Some customers might have a lower bill, but we don't see how it will be the "10x" improvement Google usually shoots for.
Still, Google's going to try to change the system from within the system, apparently by being the least-awful company running a wireless service. It could work.