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Google’s Next Telecom Move: Becoming a Wireless Carrier

Google CEO Larry Page. Photo by Bloomberg.
Google CEO Larry Page. Photo by Bloomberg.

Google is preparing to sell mobile phone plans directly to customers and manage their calls and mobile data over a cellular network, according to three people with knowledge of the plans. 

The new service is expected run on Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, two people familiar with the product say. Google is expected to reach deals to buy wholesale access to those carriers’ mobile voice and data networks, making it a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, they say.

Codenamed “Nova,” the project is led by longtime Google executive Nick Fox. A launch this year seems likely. Mr. Fox had previously looked at starting the service last fall, and some employees have already tested it.

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In the past, Google held back on some wireless ambitions—including possibly buying a carrier in a developing market—in order not to upset wireless carriers too much.The carriers were helping distribute Android devices. But by now, Android has captured much of the mobile market in terms of market share, and there are no viable alternatives aside from the iPhone.


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With the new mobile phone plan, Google hopes to “get carriers to step up” and improve pricing or networks, says one person briefed on the project.

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