Google Wireless

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Published: March 5, 2015 12:44:53 AM

Even if Google doesn’t become a national wireless network in the US, it could still drive cheaper data

How should one view Google entering wireless services (as of now, in the US only )? Google is not looking at becoming a full-scale mobile services operator—Android chief Sundar Pichai categorically asserted that Google doesn’t intend to become “a network operator at scale” (read as a national network). At the same time, Google’s entry could radically affect the way the mobile data service business plays out in the US.

As per a report in The Wall Street Journal, Google plans to play a “traffic cop” for individuals using a large band of inexpensive airwaves to be released under the US’s Federal Communication Commission’s proposed Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The company will build a database that CBRS users such as schools, hospitals and local governments—as well as individuals—can access. The idea is to take a inexpensive resource and create many small (largely local) networks. It is here that the likes of Verizon and AT&T, the US’s two largest mobile network operators, need to watch out, given this will most definitely impact their high-cost data services. The high costs of spectrum in the US have led to the mobile data services market getting limited to the big players and has driven up tariffs for the users—the average American was paying a third more by 2011 than she did the year before, as per a survey by JD Power and Associates. ‘Cheap & small’ wireless services—not just Google’s, but small start-ups like Freedom Pop and Republic Wireless—could eventually drive a pricing that could become uncompetitive for mobile operators.

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