Why partner with wireless carriers when you can become a wireless carrier?
According to a Nov. 15 article in The Wall Street Journal, Google executives have begun talks with Dish Network over building a wireless service capable of competing with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The newspaper drew its information from anonymous sources “familiar with the discussions.”
Dish Network is apparently reaching out to various partners in hopes of setting up a network on the wireless spectrum it’s owned for a few years. Neither Google nor Dish seemed willing to confirm the talks with the Journal, but the sources at the heart of the story suggested that any negotiations are strictly early stage.
Nonetheless, owning its own wireless network could prove advantageous to Google as it seeks ways to boost revenues in the face of hard competition from Apple, Microsoft and other tech giants.
Google’s explored such avenues before: back in 2008, it bid in a much-publicized wireless spectrum auction held by the FCC. That same year, it took a minority stake in wireless broadband provider Clearwire, with analysts speculating that the search-engine giant would use that deal as leverage for building out some sort of wireless network. But those plans never came to full fruition, and Google filed documents with the SEC earlier this year to sell off its Clearwire shares.
Google recently began connecting houses in Kansas City to its Google Fiber broadband network, which it claims will benefit consumers and businesses alike. “Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the Web,” it wrote as part of the project announcement over the summer. “Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.”
Google Fiber’s network, whether or not it expands beyond Kansas City, could benefit Google by exposing people to more Internet content and thus more advertising.
If Google combined a future wireless network with its Motorola hardware arm, it could take every aspect of the mobile experience in-house. Building that sort of stack is an absurdly expensive and detail-intensive operation, one that would almost certainly irritate Google’s carrier and hardware partners—but it could also translate into more revenues and less dependency on other companies.