Google is expected to launch its own wireless phone service soon. It’s been described as a “small scale” experiment to explore ways to have WiFi and cellular networks work together. But that might not be the only special thing about Google’s wireless service.
According to a report from the UK newspaper The Telegraph, Google is looking to partner with international wireless carriers to let customer use their phones while traveling without paying extra charges.
The Telegraph reports Google is in discussions with the owner of the mobile operator Three, which could open up access to wireless networks in the UK, Ireland, Italy, and some other markets.
Given Google’s description of the wireless network as a small-scale project (which may be limited to Nexus 6 smartphone owners) and the expectation that the service will operate as an MVNO (which means it’ll piggyback on existing wireless towers rather than using its own), it doesn’t sound like Google plans to compete for customers directly with major wireless carriers.
Instead, the company will likely build out its hybrid network to put pressure on other wireless carriers: it’s in Google’s best interest to make it as easy as possible for smartphone users on any network to be able to use their phones as much as possible, since the company makes most of its money by selling ads that are displayed when you use its services.
Allowing subscribers to use their phones more freely while traveling certainly couldn’t hurt.