Google plans to launch a Wi-Fi first wireless MVNO in the US later this year under the brand Project Fi, with Sprint and T-Mobile US as partners and create a Meta Network [Network of all Heterogeneous Networks]. Support for multiple carriers to get “best of both” coverage. A Wi-Fi first approach (for calls and texts as well as data), with soft handoff from WI-Fi to cellular service. Any device supporting Google Hangouts can be used to access voicemail or make calls. Initially, only Google Nexus 6 SmartPhone users have been invited to test the service. [Platform Stickiness – Bill Gates Founder Chairman of Microsoft is the original Creator of “Platforms Strategy” way back in 1996-97 when Visual Studio & Microsoft Tools were given away almost free of cost for Windows Developers so that they could create applications for the platform and help Microsoft sell OS licenses] Larry Page is extending on the same in an era of Platform & Communication Convergence.
Pricing and other details were confirmed for Project Fi: $20/month for talk and text, with data priced at $10/GB, with unused data credited forward addressing one of the most sought after demands of mobile data consumers. Additionally, consumers under the Project Fi Plan can use their SmartPhone as Hotspot for Tethering without any extra charges. With superior Technology and giving what the consumer needs, Google is sure to win hearts of users and accelerate the pace of innovation and competition.
Google’s Project Fi and other Wi-Fi first strategies suggest to us a new potential basis for market segmentation – between customers (and carriers) willing to rely heavily on public spectrum and Wi-Fi, and those willing to pay more, for carrier-grade managed connectivity at all times.
Either way, control of Android (and its own mobile communications services suite) and Google’s technical, brand and financial strength could enable Google to accelerate the evolution of mobile services and business models. As we have argued in the past, the potential pressure from MVNOs hinges on the willingness of carriers to provide wholesale service to them. While “cheaper” has a certain market appeal, “better” almost always wins the day a lesson made clear with wireline VoIP. As we watch the evolution of Google’s service, the potential for Google to deliver capabilities beyond standard carrier services is, in our view, more promising than price alone.
Google is not the First Mover with this concept. Republic Wireless has an MVNO relationship with Sprint and has modified the Android OS so that it uses VoIP for calling, looks to WiFi first to carry voice and data traffic, and establishes a cellular connection automatically when the WiFi signal begins to fade.