Google's plans to become a mobile phone operator – which we outlined earlier this month – have grown closer to reality with the news that the search giant has signed deals to run calls and data over Sprint and T-Mobile's network.
According to news reports, Google will become a virtual network operator by buying access to the two companies' networks and then sell mobile plans directly to consumers.
What those reports have failed to note so far is that the deals are only part of a broader plan. The company has been working for some time in the background to make use of currently unused - and far cheaper - spectrum to provide high-data mobile service in cities.
That plan is reliant on the US government agreeing to the company's plan for allocating the spectra – most importantly without imposing hugely expensive license fees. And earlier this month, the NTIA announced it was planning to do just that.
The issue of using the 3.5GHz spectrum is that the data can only travel so far. But, if combined with deals with mobile operators operating over typical airwaves, as well as running voice calls and mobile data over its fiber broadband network (something we covered back in April), then suddenly Google is in a position to offer cellphone service at a much lower cost than the current giants AT&T and Verizon.
The difficult part will be getting its phones to work seamlessly across each of the different networks: an issue that Google's new wireless team is thought to be working on.
If this all comes together, and Google uses an updated version of its Android software to make it all work, by the end of next year your favorite search engine ad company may be able to offer an unlimited data plan for significantly less than what you are currently paying. ®