According to a Wall Street Journal article, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) forthcoming MVNO service will only work on the company's Nexus 6 smartphone, built by Lenovo's Motorola. The report said the service could launch in the coming weeks, unless it is delayed, and will automatically provide users with the best network for their location, whether that's a Wi-Fi network, Sprint's (NYSE: S) network or T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) network.
The article provides even more details on Google's MVNO plans. The company will only offer service on one device, at least initially, which indicates it may not attract a large numbers of customers--at least those who prefer devices from the likes of Apple and Samsung. If the device for Google's MVNO is indeed able to automatically switch between Wi-Fi, Sprint and T-Mobile networks, that likely is powered by new software developed by Google and embedded into the Nexus 6's wireless radios--meaning, it likely wouldn't be available on other devices since it requires specific hardware and software.
Google uses its Nexus program to create flagship Android devices that highlight Google's products and services. Motorola sells its latest Nexus device, the 6, and Huawei has been rumored to be building the next device, which would likely be released this summer in conjunction with the release of the next version of the Android operating system.
Nonetheless, the introduction of a device and service that could automatically switch from one wireless carrier to another would represent a major innovation in the wireless industry which to date has specifically worked to tie devices to one carrier's network in an attempt to prevent churn. But there have been some recent innovations in this space: MVNOs like Republic Wireless have built services that push users' calls and data connections over Wi-Fi instead of cellular where available. And Apple offers its new iPad users the ability to purchase one device and then, afterward, select service from a handful of supporting carriers.
Earlier this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed that the search giant will launch an MVNO in the U.S. on a limited basis in "the coming months" to spur innovation in the wireless market. Although Pichai did not say which operator or operators will provide the underlying connectivity, several reports last month indicated that Sprint and T-Mobile will be Google's network partners.
"We don't intend to be a network operator at scale," Pichai said during an appearance at the Mobile World Congress conference. Pichai said Google envisions a wireless service that is a "bit different" and will be focused on making cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity experiences seamless. He also raised the idea of having dropped wireless calls reconnect automatically. He said some of the ideas that Google tries will work out and that the company hopes its carrier partners will adopt them in their own services.
- see this WSJ article
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