Well, here’s one we have all asked for but never thought would actually come as the Wall Street Journal reports that Google and Dish Network have held talks in recent weeks about partnering on a new wireless service. The new service would be expected to rival AT&T and Verizon Wireless according to “people familiar with the discussions.”
Before anyone starts dancing around the room with joy, the talks are said to be very preliminary and could amount to nothing. Furthermore, Google is just one company that Dish has held talks with in recent weeks and discussions with other companies are also in the very early stages.
Dish has gone on record numerous times over the past year that it wants to partner in building out a wireless network with spectrum the company acquired in 2008. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen declined to specifically comment on Google, but did say that some potential partners include companies “who would like to be in the industry” and currently don’t serve a wireless business.
Ergen continued by saying that it would be best if Dish could partner with a company that already has existing wireless infrastructure as well business expertise of the wireless industry.
Google declined to comment but let the speculation run wild of the possibilities of Google as a wireless carrier. What impact would it have on Android, on the existing carriers and the OEMs around the world that rely on Android as the backbone of their current wireless business?
“From Google’s perspective, it wants people to watch 10 hours of YouTube a day on their devices, and what hurts them is [wireless carriers] restricting capacity,” said Walter Piecyk, a wireless-industry analyst at research firm BTIG.
Google may lack knowledge of the wireless business and has no current spectrum holdings but what they do have is $45 billion in cash. That kind of money could go a long way in putting together a new network. For its part, Dish is awaiting regulatory approval to use its spectrum to launch a nationwide wireless service to complement its satellite TV offering. Currently, Dish owns 40MHz of S-band spectrum in the 2000-2020MHz and 2180-2200 range which is currently designed for Satellite television use. However, Dish has appealed to the FCC to let them switch the use of a Satellite spectrum to wireless, a matter which is currently ongoing.
Hypothetical question which I’m sure I already know the answer to, let’s just drop all the roadblocks and speed bumps that could come up if Google chose to enter the wireless industry — would you drop your carrier to sign up with Google? How fast would you do it? Would you cancel service with your existing carrier?
Update: It seems that Google may be planning to make the network data only, with voice and SMS handled by VoIP. Google Voice seems like a good contender for that. It is definitely an interesting concept. Also, the service may come out mid-late 2013, which is really soon. All unconfirmed of course, but it’s still raising our hopes a bit.