Google reportedly plans to get into the wireless technology space by piggybacking off of Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.
The search-engine giant would effectively rent excess network capacity from those providers so it could then sell its own wireless service plans to customers.
Sprint wouldn't comment on the rumored deal. T-Mobile pretty much said, "Um, go ask Google." Google is keeping mum.
“I think they're looking at adding some other type of value beyond just a cheaper price,” says Bill Menezes of the research firm Gartner.
The wireless industry is already highly competitive, with carriers jockeying to provide cheaper plans and shorter contracts. So it might seem odd that Google would want to get into the game. Google will likely come up with some kind of "wireless services plus” package to differentiate itself, according to Menezes.
“They have other things to offer, whether it's YouTube-oriented or something related to Google apps, if you're a business," he says.
Another possibility is that Google will try to perfect a way of letting customers move seamlessly between wireless and WiFi service, which would disrupt how wireless carriers work.
“The innovation here is going to be for them to develop ways in which they provide ubiquitous access to, ultimately, what Google wants, which is Google's applications,” says Pai-ling Yin, a social science research scholar at Stanford University's Institute of Economic Policy Research.
Ultimately, Google may just want to learn more about being a carrier – and experiment with ways to expand Internet access in remote areas, Yin says.
What's in it for Sprint and T-Mobile? If Google pays to use their excess network capacity, that would help offset costs they incurred building up their wireless networks.