Through Google Fiber, Google is already an Internet service provider, piping Gigabit Internet to homes and businesses in a handful of cities across the US. According to a report from The Information (paywall) Google has been considering supplementing Google Fiber’s home Internet access with a wireless cellular service. Google’s plan wasn’t to build towers, but to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)—basically a middle man who buys service from one of the “big four” carriers at wholesale prices and resells that to consumers under its own brand. According to the report, Google spoke to Sprint and then Verizon about reselling their networks to customers, with the Verizon talks happening earlier this year. The service would be available to users in Google Fiber cities, and it would be supplemented with free Wi-Fi hotspots. What would Google hope to accomplish with a move like this? Google built Google Fiber from the ground up by putting fiber on poles, running connections to each house, and providing self-built hardware. Complete control over every part of the network allows Google to differentiate Google Fiber in several ways, like service location, speed, and pricing. Google’s plan for its wireless service appears to be much less ambitious, though. A s an MVNO, Google would be using someone else’s network, so the only thing Google would really have control over is the resale price. The whole point of Google Fiber is to “shame” other ISPs into increasing their speeds and lowering their prices. Google doesn’t plan on covering the entire country in fiber, but one look at Google’s 1,000Mbps service for $70 and the traditional ISP plan of 5 to 15Mbps for about the same price looks like a huge ripoff. This ” halo effect ” puts pressure on ISPs to speed up their service, and that makes Google products like search and YouTube run faster. The strategy seems to be working, with companies like AT&T rolling out fiber in response . As an MVNO, Google can’t do anything like the Google Fiber strategy, since it isn’t running the network. It won’t have control over speed or reception, meaning the best it can do to stand out is resell the service very cheaply. Unfairly competing with wireless carriers by pricing to only break even doesn’t seem like it would put much pressure on other carriers, because they would realize Google isn’t trying to turn a profit. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments
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Google Wireless: Google Fiber cities could get mobile service, but to what end?