Google is taking a leap into the wireless business, according to reports that say the internet giant plans to partner with Sprint and T-Mobile to sell mobile-phone plans directly to customers.
“It’s not surprising; Google has limitless ambitions,” said analyst Scott Cleland, President of Precursor, a Virginia-based consulting firm and author of a book that raised concerns about the company’s growing influence. “They’re going to play Sprint and T-Mobile against each other to get a really low price, so Google can offer a really low price.”
Citing unnamed sources, news sites The Information, The Verge and The Wall Street Journal reported about Google’s plans to run a new wireless service that resells what is provided on Sprint and T-Mobile networks.
Google, Sprint and T-Mobile declined to confirm the reports.
Google is not registered as a wireless carrier in California, according to the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
Telecommunications experts disagree about how much Google’s entrance into the wireless business will disrupt the industry, and big players such as AT&T and Verizon, and how much the move will bring down prices and increase network speeds. Google’s plans are to become a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, which allows the company to sell wireless service using its own brand name even though it does not manage the network.
“MVNOs are cool, they’re a good way for Google to get its brand out there and offer interesting pricing plans,” said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, which advocates for a more open internet. “But they don’t really change the competitive dynamics of the wireless industry. They’re just reselling Sprint or T-Mobile.”