Rumor Mill: Google's MVNO will charge per GB, give customers credit for unused data

Little is known about Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) forthcoming MVNO, but according to a leaked Android application unearthed by the blog Android Police, the service will charge customers based on how much data they use, will let customers get a credit for unused data, and will support shared data plans as well.

Google has confirmed it will launch an MVNO but has not said when, though many expect it to announce the service at its I/O developer conference at the end of May. According to the blog, the app itself is codenamed "Tycho," but the app references the name "Nova," which has been the rumored name of Google's MNVO. The app also refers many times to "Project Fi," which could be a temporary name for the MVNO (Google has several internal projects, like Project Ara for modular phones, that follow that naming convention).

According to the blog, the Project Fi service will charge customers for the data they use, but when customers do not use all of their data allotment, customers will be credited for the unused amount at the end of the month. Customers will pay per GB of data usage and if they go over their data allotment they will be charged the same flat rate for each additional GB of data.

The blog also reported that calling or texting any number in the U.S. will be free, and international calls will be charged at a low rate, similar to the Google Voice service.

According to a Wall Street Journal article from March, Google's MVNO service will only work on the company's Nexus 6 smartphone, built by Lenovo's Motorola brand. The report also said the service 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 blog said that code in the app confirms that Sprint and T-Mobile will be the service's launch partners. While the app makes a reference to so-called "auto-switching," it's unclear how that will work.

The Google MVNO will support data sharing across multiple lines of service, and customers will pay a flat fee for adding lines, though there does not appear to be a discount for adding more lines, according to Android Police. The service also appears to support data-only devices like tablets.

Interestingly, according to the leaked app, Google will also tailor ads to users based on their call history. However, Google will give customers the option to opt out of such tracking, according to Android Police

Google's Sundar Pichai, the search giant's senior vice president of products, confirmed last month at Mobile World Congress that the company will launch an MVNO in the U.S. on a limited basis in "the coming months" to spur innovation in the wireless market. Pichai did not confirm Sprint and T-Mobile as launch partners.

"We don't intend to be a network operator at scale," Pichai said. He said that the core of everything Google does with Android is based on partners and taking an "ecosystem approach" and that "anything we do in connectivity would have the same attributes."

Pichai added that Google has pushed the boundaries of software and hardware with its Nexus device program and that it is time to add connectivity to the mix. "We want to be able to experiment along these lines," he said.

For more:
- see this Android Police article
- see this 9to5 Google article
- see this BGR article

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