Google, Dish in talks to launch wireless service

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Google has already cemented its position as a strong player in the smartphone market through Android. But the company’s ambitions in the mobile space are apparently much broader.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the Internet giant recently met with satellite television provider Dish Network to discuss a potential partnership for a new wireless service that would rival the likes of Verizon and AT&T in the US.

The paper notes that talks are at an early stage and could amount to nothing. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen declined to comment on Google’s involvement, but he did confirm they are discussing the launch of a new cellular network using its spectrum with a number of potential partners “who would like to be in the industry.”

Dish has been buying up spectrum for about four years now and is awaiting regulatory approval to use it for a ground-based cellphone network -- most of their spectrum is currently designated for satellite use only. Having potential network partners lined up as the FCC deliberates shows its commitment to building a wireless network, rather than flipping the spectrum to an established player for a profit once its cleared.

For Google, being able to provide fast internet access on mobile devices could help it ensure its search engine and other online services continue to bring in ad revenue. Dish would benefit from Google’s deep pockets to build a nationwide network and potentially turning a good chunk of its vast amount of users into subscribers.

This isn’t the first time Google shows interest in the wireless business. In 2008, the company bid billions of dollars in a spectrum auction, which it ultimately lost to Verizon and AT&T but still got its way by getting the FCC to mandate that the winner abides by several of its proposed open access rules.

Google has also taken an important step in the wired internet business with the recent rollout of a gigabit fiber optic network in Kansas City, KS. The company says the network is part of an "experiment" to bring ultra-high-speed broadband to as many as 500,000 people, but it hopes to expand to the rest of the country eventually.

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