Google Confirms Plans for Wireless Service By BRIAN X. CHEN MARCH 2, 2015 1:05 PM
It’s official: Google wants to offer a wireless service, but not like just any other phone carrier.
The company plans to team with existing carriers to sell services on their networks. But Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president of Google, says the company’s goal is to provide a proof of concept for a phone service that blends Wi-Fi and cellular networks together seamlessly.
“We are thinking about how Wi-Fi and cell networks work together and how to make that seamless,” Mr. Pichai said in an on-stage interview at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, according to the technology news site TechCrunch.
Mr. Pichai did not say which carriers Google planned to team with. He said more details about the cellphone service would become public soon.
Google is experimenting with a hybrid approach that offers mobile voice and data services primarily through Wi-Fi signals. It would fall back on cell towers in areas where Wi-Fi is beyond reach, sources say. Industry insiders call this a “Wi-Fi first” approach.
A person briefed on Google’s plans, who recently spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private, said the company wanted to make use of the fiber network it had installed in various cities to create an enormous network of Wi-Fi connections that phones could use to place calls and use apps over the Internet. In areas out of reach, Google’s network would switch over to cell towers leased by T-Mobile USA and Sprint, this person said.
Google’s broadband Internet network, Google Fiber, has been deployed in three metropolitan areas and is expanding to four more. In addition, Google’s smartphone messaging app, Hangouts, could be a substitute for traditional texting services, and the popular Google Voice service can be used as an Internet-powered application for placing calls.