Google will likely announce its wireless phone service in the US on Wednesday. But don’t expect it to have a major impact just yet.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google will leverage Sprint and T-Mobile’s wireless networks and offer bandwidth under a new pricing scheme where customers only have to pay for the data they use. It’s also expected to let people make calls using WiFi networks.
But, like other Google projects, it’s a bold plan that will start out small.
At first, Google’s Nexus 6 is expected to be the only smartphone that works with the service. And Android lead Sundar Pichai basically said as much back in February at Mobile World Congress, where he called it a small-scale test project that’s “Google’s way of helping drive new technologies forward,” according to Android Police.
And there’s still a lot we don’t know: We don’t know if this service is Android-only, or if iOS and Windows Phone users will get support, and when. We don’t know anything about coverage areas or pricing.
But here’s what matters: The name “Google” already means a lot to consumers. Among other things, it means consumer-friendliness, and disruption. And that’s exactly what this service is all about.
Like Google Fibre, this wireless service will likely be a small-scale rollout that forces other wireless carriers down the rabbit hole, compromising their own strategies in order to play catch-up. Google is borrowing a page from T-Mobile in this way, since it too has forced the hands of the other carriers despite technically being less popular in terms of number of subscribers.
If Google’s new service proves popular, we might see Verizon and AT&T change their strategies, since both companies currently charge fixed rates for data no matter how much people actually use. But even if it’s a small and rarely used service, increased competition in the telecommunications space is terrific for all consumers, no matter how you look at it.