Various reports today are converging on a story that Google is about to enter the wireless game. No, they’re not kicking off another national LTE buildout for us all to watch city by city. They’re going to take the MVNO path to glory.
Apparently there is a deal in the works with both Sprint and T-Mobile. It’s not clear that it’s anything other than experiment or a gambit at this point. But Google has a history now of entering businesses to influence their development, but then never leaving them — Chrome, Google Fiber, Chromebooks, Nexus, Motorola and all that.
The scope of Google’s potential dream? With all the stuff they are working on, you could potentially buy an android-based Google Nexus or Motorola smartphone or tablet and a Chromebook, have them connect to the internet both on Google’s wireless network and on wifi from your Google Fiber, do all your email with Gmail, all your applications in Google’s Cloud, and of course all your search with Google. And since it’s all Google on each end, it stays on Google’s dark-fiber-based global backbone. Perhaps the lesson here is total vertical integration, and the wireless piece is one of the last big steps toward it.
But as an MVNO, they’re taking on little risk and leaving the infrastructure in others’ hands. So whatever it is, it’s not Google Fiber. Not yet. And if they do well with it, it’s probably Verizon and AT&T that will take the brunt of it.
It’s been quite a week for Google in the communications biz. They also invested billions into SpaceX in a dramatic expansion of their talk of satellites for internet beyond the grid. Say what you like about Google, they certainly manage to find much more interesting things to do with their cash flow than just about anyone.
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