Google plans to launch a new mobile phone service that it will sell directly to U.S. consumers, according to technology site The Information and other news outlets. Instead of building its own network, Google will reportedly use bandwidth purchased from cellphone carriers Sprint and T-Mobile.
The wireless service could be rolled out as early as this year, adding what could be a disruptive new force to the U.S. mobile market. It would also give Google another way to leverage its Android mobile platform — and to control how those devices operate.
The Information's Amir Efrati reports:
"Codenamed 'Nova,' the project is led by longtime Google executive Nick Fox. A launch this year seems likely. Mr. Fox had previously looked at starting the service last fall, and some employees have already tested it."
If the plan comes to fruition, Google would join other companies that already operate as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, such as Ting, Tracfone, and Republic Wireless, that have proliferated in recent years.
MVNOs commonly offer their customers lower rates and more flexible plans than the same large wireless carriers from whom they purchase voice and data bandwidth wholesale.
Few details are known about Google's wireless project, including its possible price range and regions of service. After news of the potential service came out, The Verge and The Wall Street Journal verified the story with their own sources.
The Journal reports:
"Google hinted at its wireless ambitions in a letter to the FCC last week, which said higher-frequency spectrum might be used for 'the next generation of unlicensed broadband services,' including complements to Wi-Fi networks, 'or entirely new technologies and innovations.' "