Last April, rumors surfaced that Google was interested in offering its own wireless service to customers living in areas serviced by Google Fiber. The search giant has since expanded and acted on those plans as it’s reportedly hammering out a deal with both Sprint and T-Mobile as we speak.
The plan is to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which means they’d buy access to Sprint and T-Mobile’s network at a discounted rate then sell wireless services branded as their own. It’s a common practice as several of the smaller wireless carriers in the US – think Boost Mobile, FreedomPop and MetroPCS – currently operate as MVNOs.
What would make Google’s approach different, however, is the fact that they’re going after two wireless carriers simultaneously. If they’re able to offer service from both providers, Google could essentially provide customers with the benefits of a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile – a larger coverage footprint – without all the hassle and regulatory hurdles of ownership.
While an MVNO deal with the likes of AT&T and Verizon would no doubt draw more interest, a combination of Sprint and T-Mobile coverage might not be so bad.
The effort, dubbed Project Nova, is being led by longtime Google executive Nick Fox. The original plan was to launch last fall but for whatever reason, Google missed that tentative date. The latest report claims a launch sometime this year seems likely and that some employees have already started testing the service.
This will certainly be one of the more interesting stories of 2015, if and when it develops. Key to its success will no doubt be pricing. We’re hearing that Google wants to be creative with pricing (perhaps a Project Ara tie-in?) but there’s little more to go on at this hour.