Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge

Verizon's CFO appears to have confirmed reports that Google will become a wireless competitor by offering its own commercial mobile services, using Sprint and T-Mobile's networks.

"It's just another competitor as we look at it," Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s CFO Fran Shammo told analysts during the Q&A session on the Verizon fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday. He cited Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s move as a "prime example" of how competitive the wireless business in the US is right now.

The Information first reported that Google was working on "Project Nova," a move to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), headed by Google exec Nick Fox. An MVNO offers wireless services to customers under its own brand but leases the network and spectrum from other operators. The report cited two sources saying that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. will provide network capacity for Google.

Neither Google nor the operators have actually confirmed the report yet.

For all the latest news from the wireless networking and services sector, check out our dedicated mobile channel here on Light Reading.

On the earnings call, however, Shammo talked about the MVNO as if it is a done deal. He cited Google Fiber as an example of how the search giant can move aggressively into markets.

"Their whole purpose is to increase speeds so people can do more search," Shammo stated. The more users search Google the more ads they get served, which is how Google makes its money. (See The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?.)

The CFO may well have cause to have the inside track on Google's MVNO ambitions. Earlier reports in April suggested that Google was talking to Verizon about a similar hook-up. (See Google Casts a Wide Wireless Net.)

Shammo was asked about that too but he didn't address it.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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MarkC73 1/27/2015 | 4:29:08 PM
Re: Can Google succeed? maybe a good side business if it gets popular, like a supplimental support package.
Mitch Wagner 1/26/2015 | 7:03:40 PM
Re: Can Google succeed? Google might be offering MVNO for impoverished users, in parallel to Project Loon. If the service is cheap enough customers will live with no support.
Mitch Wagner 1/26/2015 | 6:48:44 PM
Re: Can Google succeed? smkinoshita - Keywords: "usually when I do get a hold of a human." :)
MarkC73 1/26/2015 | 1:02:11 AM
Re: Can Google succeed? I think Verizon's biggest concern with Google 'wireless' should be that Google doesn't need to make money off of the business to stick around.

nasimson 1/25/2015 | 5:05:15 PM
Re: what customer service a MVNO must offer @mhui0:

Despite the logic of already-doing-two-thirds I dont think Google will be able to scale it up. It would have to acquire MVNO licenses in each country & be subjected to telecom regulatory laws. Furthermore MVNO works on distribution strength. Google has limited physical presence nationwide.
smkinoshita 1/24/2015 | 5:31:27 PM
Re: Can Google succeed? I think Google's got a chance.  Despite customer service not always being up to par, usually when I do get a hold of a human at last things go pretty well.
steve q 1/23/2015 | 2:36:46 PM
Re: Can Google succeed? The main issue for Verizon is how Google plan to put more customer with a big name products that everyone use. Verizon know must think on both ends there cell phones services and fios.
Gabriel Brown 1/23/2015 | 10:46:23 AM
Re: Can Google succeed?

Um, Android?

OK it started as an acquisition, but it's a Google product and is incredibly successful.

I'm not sure customer service is such a deal-breaker. I mean, have you ever had anything resembling customer service from a mobile carrier? Hanging on the phone for an hour, only to be told "computer says no" does not count.

Frank Pick 1/23/2015 | 3:51:22 AM
Re: Can Google succeed? Apart from the obvious search engine, can anyone think of a Google success that wasnt an acquisition?
mhui0 1/23/2015 | 2:25:31 AM
what customer service a MVNO must offer A MVNO must offer customer service for the device hardware, the device software, and service billing.

Google already takes care of the last two quite well on their Android phones. Few customers walk into a carrier's retail store asking their staff how to use a feature on an Android phone.

The device manufacturer already takes care of any hardware problem now for Google-branded hardware like the Nexus series.

Hence, once Google's MVNO starts up, the three types of customer service can use the same channels as they do now.
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