Google-branded mobile network is coming this year, confirms Sundar Pichai

3 Mar 2015

Pictured: Sundar Pichai on stage at Mobile World Congress yesterday

A Google-branded commercial mobile network offering or MVNO is in the works but the intention is not to disrupt the market for existing mobile operators, Google products chief Sundar Pichai confirmed.

Pichai told yesterday’s Mobile World Congress that the plan is to launch as a mobile virtual network operator, piggybacking on one of the existing US mobile carriers like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint.

“We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale and we are actually working with carrier partners.

“You will see us announce it in the coming months but the goal is to drive innovations that the market will allow and to do it at a scale that people will see what we are doing. If carrier partners think they are good they will take them on board.”

He said that other carriers are aware of Google’s plans. “AT&T and Sprint power our Android phones, there is no reason for us to poach market share.”

Pichai likened the strategy to Google’s Nexus smartphones where it partners with OEMs to create products that emulate its vision at such a scale that won’t compete with manufacturers but that makers will take the changes on board.

He said the motivation to launch its own network brand is technological. “How can we make Wi-Fi and cellular work seamlessly together.

“We want to show what’s possible and expect operators will like what we are trying to do.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years