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Google Casts a Wide Wireless Net

Dan Jones
4/8/2014
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Google is casting a wide net when it comes to future wireless offerings.

A report from The Information stating that the search firm might become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the US has plenty speculating on Google's wireless future. The report suggests that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) could hook up with Verizon Wireless to resell wireless services in its Google Fiber cities. (See Google Fiber Shifts Into High Gear.)

This, of course, throws up questions about how other major US carriers -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), for instance -- would react if Google used Verizon for an MVNO. Google has had huge success getting Android-powered mobile Internet devices on to the market by taking a largely open-source, carrier-neutral approach so far.

However, Google's job ads certainly do suggest that it is further exploring and expanding the ways it uses wireless, particularly in the Google Fiber cities. For instance, it is searching for a WiFi operations engineer who would work "on Google Fiber hot-zones, Google Wi-Fi in commercial stores, and other public or private wireless installations."

Google is also looking for a technical program manager in the Google for Wireless Access team. That position calls for knowledge of LTE, WiFi, cellular, and Google apps. Google wants a wireless access person to work on multiple concurrent projects. "You will be responsible for identifying opportunities and driving the progress of various initiatives that will impact how people access Internet across the globe," the ad copy states.

And don't think that Google's ambitious plan to blanket underserved communities around the world with Internet from orbiting balloons is on the back burner, either. A recent job posting suggests that Google could be examining eventually using 4G connectivity for such a service.

The ad calls for an "RF Engineer" who can write TDMA and/or LTE software and "develop system software for large internet network delivered via high altitude balloons." Google says that the test ballons operate at 3G speeds in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz public spectrum bands used for WiFi and more. (See Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/12/2014 | 11:12:42 AM
Re: Balloons still in play?
@ kq4ym, that's what Google has always done. It has always kept big firms and networks on their toes fearing something big coming from Google's quarters. They keep their cards close to their chest. It's not just money, they have lots of it. With such huge presence among the consumers, Google can easily afford to explore new fields without ever worrying about the possible failures which are not going to hurt them anyway.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/12/2014 | 11:11:48 AM
Re: MVNO redux
@ KBode, Google is a big match player. It has always stepped into every market with a clear and well defined plan. It has always tried to keep that user friendly posture. And I am sure that will be the case in pricing also as you suggested. Google has been successful in this strategy of sacrificing some money for catching bigger fish.
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 4:55:04 PM
Re: Reminds me...
I didnt' mean to suggest that Google Loon would be floating over N. America... I doubt that would be legally possible for Google. I just wanted to point out that Google might try unlicensed spectrum... but that might be crazy given the interference in the US in that spectrum range.

These reasons are why Apple didn't follow through with any plans to develop its own wireless network.... it's not simple and it's extremely expensive to do correctly.

 
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 4:51:11 PM
Re: Easier to Buy
Maybe you'll be correct someday... I'll make a mental note of your prediction of Google buying Tmobile -- and we'll see if Google will want to get into a bidding war with Sprint over T-mobile. And if you're right... maybe I'll send you a virtual beer or something. :P
ginovilla
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ginovilla,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/10/2014 | 4:50:43 PM
Re: Reminds me...
The Google Loon project is focused on providing Internet Access to areas with low or non Internet infrastructure.  Im not seeing Google Loon being used in the US, more in third world countries.  In order to achieve harmonization and comply with a long list of spectrum regulations in different countries, its easier to use unlicesed spectrum than to try to omply with all the different bands and regulatiosn that go with them.
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 4:49:29 PM
Re: Easier to Buy
I'm not so sure that Google would be facing anti-trust issues b/c there are certainly other much larger players in the wireless market, and Google would be *increasing* the competition, not decreasing it.
ginovilla
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ginovilla,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/10/2014 | 4:46:42 PM
Re: Easier to Buy
in Mobile operators, the value is in Spectrum not IP.  
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 4:46:10 PM
Re: Reminds me...

Where would Google get the spectrum?

Google Loon uses unlicensed ISM bands... at 2.4 or 5.8 GHz to get "3G-like" speeds. I think that sounds like WiFi, but I'm sure Google engineers have thought of purchasing spectrum or somehow using whitespace spectrum. But you're right, it might be better to acquire an existing carrier to get the spectrum (or become a MVNO partner with multiple carriers or buy an existing MVNO that already has deals in place with multiple carriers).

mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 4:20:55 PM
Re: Easier to Buy
Google acquiring T-mobile would be a significant experiment! Google hasn't quite perfected its acquisition strategy, and T-mobile would be a challenge to absorb. The carrier doesn't really have much IP that would be valuable to Google, and T-mobile's reach isn't as wide since it's in 4th place. That's probably why Google decided to partner with VZW -- it can reach more users more reliably -- with a much smaller investment committment.
ginovilla
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ginovilla,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/10/2014 | 4:10:24 PM
Re: Reminds me...
T mobile
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