Google’s adding fuel to the telecom rumor mill by talking with global conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Limited, owner of international mobile network Three. According to The Telegraph, Google is likely hoping to rent out Three’s infrastructure in order to offer customers international calls, text, and data at the same price regardless of location.
Three has 22 million customers in Europe alone, with an international network that includes the U.K., Hong Kong, Australia, and Sweden. Three has also sought to eliminate roaming charges, making it a great potential partner for Google, says The Telegraph. Though, as the BBC reports, roaming charges are already being phased out in Europe.
This is in line with Google’s announcement last month that it would start a mobile telecom service, a warning shot to established U.S. telecom companies, which for the most part still offer customers traditional call-and-data plans that run on their mobile networks. Google’s advantage would be using its Internet tech to get the most efficient signal between wireless and Wi-Fi that would reduce its price tiers, says The Washington Post.
But while Google has not announced plans to build out its own wireless infrastructure and will likely stick to renting it out from existing carriers, it owns something that other providers lack: Android. If Google is able to offer international calls, text, and data at domestic rates, it can seamlessly add that functionality to its existing Google chat, video Hangout, and email suite. This integration would combat existing free data-based chat and video services, like Skype and WhatsApp, which are widespread but siloed in their functionality. Google’s advantage would bundle everything (data, text, calls) in one service.
Google’s announcement that it plans to become a telecom was a clear shot across the bow to the telecom fiefdoms across the U.S., which do not compete with each other and have little reason to innovate, points out Ars Technica. It was only competition from Google Fiber that pushed Comcast to announce its 2Gbps Gigabit Pro service last week. But if Google secures deals with foreign carriers to eliminate international roaming charges for mobile phones, it already has two things U.S. telecoms do not: a built-in global base of Android users, and customers who are largely happy with its offerings.
[via The Telegraph]