Google To Bow Wireless Service ‘In The Coming Months’

Confirms Plans For Small Scale MVNO Service
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Google will launch a wireless service in the U.S. and will shed more detail on those plans in the months ahead, a top exec confirmed at the Mobile World Congress confab that is getting underway this week in Barcelona, according to reports.

But the service will be small in scale and experiment-focused, and therefore does not intend to take direct aim at major U.S. wireless carriers but will instead complement them, Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of products, said Monday during a presentation at the show.

“You will see us announce it in the coming months,” he said, according to this story in The Wall Street Journal. “Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt.”

While Google works closely with wireless carriers, it has developed its own mobile devices under the Nexus brand.

“They know what we are doing,” Pichai said of Google’s wireless carrier partners. “In the end, partners like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. are what powers most of our Android phones. And the model works extremely well for us. And so there’s no reason for us to course correct.”

The confirmation that a Google-branded wireless service comes more than a month after rumors surfaced that the company behind the Android OS was developing an MVNO service that would piggyback on the networks of providers such as Sprint and T-Mobile U.S.

The wireless plan is also taking shape as Google builds out fiber-fed 1-Gig platform in Kansas City; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas, and makes plan to do so in several more markets that were recently identified by Google Fiber for expansion.

Although Google’s MVNO plan will be small in scope, it’s entering the fray as cable operators also push ahead with their own wireless data and voice plans. Cablevision Systems, for example, has launched a WiFi-only phone service called Freewheel, while Comcast execs dropped hints last week that the MSO, which has MVNO options with Sprint and Verizon Wireless available to it,  is developing a strategy that could take advantage of its growing WiFi network and possibly tap into cellular networks.