A recent tech news report out of Seoul, Korea suggests that Google (News - Alert) could soon have a new title: mobile network operator.
Business Korea reported that Google is aiming to provide free voice and video calling through a new LTE (News - Alert) mobile network. According to the initial analysis, this project will be different from last year’s Project Fi, an MVNO service Google launched which is still operational and allows mobile users to gain wireless phone and data services through a combination of existing network ties with operators such as Sprint, Three, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular (News - Alert). Project Fi was once limited as an invitation-only service; it is now only limited in the sense that users must use one of the collection of Nexus devices Google has developed.
It is possible that Google’s ambition to create its own LTE network will not carry the Nexus device limitation. This time around, the search giant is partnering with Intel (News - Alert), Nokia, Qualcomm and Ruckus Wireless to use the 3.5 GHz band of wireless in the U.S. This would open the mobile airways to a new variant of LTE. It is also expected that the service will utilize Wi-Fi networks (as does Project Fi) to hand voice and data between LTE and Wi-Fi as signal strength for either one becomes more effective in the duration of any call.
This combination of LTE mobile and Wi-Fi service plays into the infrastructure that Google has built for itself over the past several years. Through its Google Fiber project, which brings gigabit-speed Internet to homes and businesses in the U.S., it could easily open public Wi-Fi hotspots that would aid mobile calls. The company’s chat services, Hangouts and Google Duo, also may play a role in this development because they offer an avenue through which Google could offer discounts to users – such as free calling through its branded software.
Although discounts could help bring in users and keep them coming back for more, some have speculated that Google could over-extend its reach. Kim Seong-cheol, a professor of media studies at Korea University, commented that media firms such as the Wall Street Journal say “free and low-priced Google services will be the search giant’s misstep as they wind up fruitless, triggering excessive investment.”
If this new LTE service is to be successful, as Google’s many partners surely hope it will be, a trade for discounted services will need to exist. This suggests that Google could pressure businesses to purchase special packages at full price or that advertising could play a role in discounted services. Google could easily display ads in its own communications software to help recoup losses associated with discount consumer services. For now, it appears that any new LTE is still going through development, so it could be years before a commercial plan hits the U.S.
Edited by Alicia Young