Google, Dish might launch a data-only wireless network in 2013

Google is already dipping its toe in the home internet service through the Google Fiber pilot in Kansas City. Now it looks like Google could be preparing to partner with Dish Network to launch a wireless network.

According to The Wall Street Journal, talks are still in the early phases, and Dish is talking to other potential partners as well. But 9to5Google suggests that the deal is already pretty far along, and the service could roll out starting in mid or late 2013.

Google Nexus 4

Neither Google nor Dish Network are talking publicly, so everything is still firmly in rumor territory for now. But the idea of a Google-backed cellular network opens some interesting possibilities.

Google is reportedly planning to make the network data-only, which means that instead of using traditional voice and text messaging services, customers would use VoIP services such as Google Voice to make and receive calls and messages over a 3G or 4G network.

That’d certainly be one way to increase the popularity of Google Voice… and to lock customers into a Google ecosystem. Theoretically you could also use Skype or other third party VoIP apps on a data network though.

While Google looks like a company that’s all over the place these days, with self-driving cars and wearable computers in development, laptop, smartphone and tablet operating systems to push, and web-based office software, music stores, and much more. But Google still makes most of its money from advertising — and many of these other projects tie into that by making it easier for users to spend time online.

A Google-backed phone company would have a vested interest in offering affordable rates, fast data connections, and either unlimited data plans or at least contracts with high bandwidth allowances.

This would make it easier for customers to spend a lot of time online, where they’re likely to use Google services and interact with advertisements. It could also lead competing wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon to offer more competitive pricing, which would lead to increased mobile data use even on networks Google doesn’t have an ownership stake in.

In other words, Google stands to profit by shaking up the mobile space… even if it means undercutting competitors’ prices. And that could be a very good thing for consumers… or a very bad thing for folks that think they’re already exposed to too much advertising.

Or maybe this will all amount to nothing.

  • buzz86us

    this would be nice if they could offer data cards for a relatively low price as well if they could do $5-$10 per gb that don’t expire they’d have my attention but a $25 plan with a high data allowance would be nice too. I am getting too sick of Sprint/T-Mobiles b/s. ATM my best hope is freedompop.

  • Mobile1

    I, for one, welcome the competition.

  • marcusmash

    Definitely something to look forward to. One note, Google Voice is not a VoIP service. Google Talk has VoIP but Voice does not. GV requires that you have some sort of phone service already.

    • http://twitter.com/bladearrowney Josh Didur

      Incorrect, if you have voice and are logged into your computer, you can most certainly make phone calls over the internet. And, for the record, it’s still free to do so in the US.

      • marcusmash

        You can make Google Voice calls from your computer via Gmail or Google Talk but not with Voice alone.

      • menting

        that’s the interface only. You can make Google Voice calls over Android apps (such as GrooveIP) fine.

    • http://www.facebook.com/elijah.rompa Elijah Rompa

      You can use Google voice for making calls through VOIP I do it all the time on my old phones with GrooveIP and my home wifi or whatever wifi I happen to be on.

  • http://etiforum.com/ Mike Walker

    Given the shockingly high prices the current mobile phone companies charge for their data plans, Google’s probably thinking they have a lot of room to undercut the currently established competition and still make a decent profit (even before you consider their ecosystem). I recently compared two similar phone plans (1GB data/month) from the US and the UK and the American one was nearly $1000 more expensive over the standard 2-year plan at $2175 compared with $1250.

    This has got to scare the crap out of AT&T and Verison in particular as they will no longer be able to ratchet up their prices in tandem without people realizing just how bad a deal they’re getting.