According to the The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter, Google’s new wireless service will only work with the company’s newest Nexus handset, the Nexus 6. Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President for Google, announced this week at Mobile World Congress that they are indeed working on a cellular service in the United States. They haven’t announced any specifics about it yet but he did say it is something they are actively working on with hopes to announce in the coming weeks.
Google’s end all goal with their MVNO network, or mobile virtual network operator network, is to “drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt,” said Sundar Pichai. Much as with their Nexus program they want to try to push the envelope and hope that others get on board with what they are doing.
The service is supposed to run on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks coupled with Wi-Fi to be able to switch between whichever service has the stronger signal for you. This type of technology is already baked into the latest flavor of Android. Lollipop can determine which network, the Wi-Fi or cellular data, to use based on how data-heavy the app you are using is. For video streaming it will favor the stronger signal and for weaker tasks, such as checking for notifications, it can use the weaker signal.
Some companies, such as Republic Wireless, already have a system in place to be able to function alone on Wi-Fi using other Motorola devices, the E, G, and X, and will resort to using the Sprint network if needed. With Google Voice working through Wi-Fi already with calls, SMS, and MMS messages it would be an easy fit for Google to try something similar with their own service.
Sundar Pichai did say in the interview, “we don’t intend to become a carrier at scale” which is the same philosophy they have with their Nexus handsets. It would make sense for Google to test their new service initially only with the hardware of their Nexus devices; if they plan to roll it out to other devices running Lollipop or not. Hopefully we hear more official word from Google soon to get a better idea of what their service will entail and how it will be implemented.