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Google's wireless service expected to launch soon, report says

The search giant's network would reportedly let customers pay only for the data they use and not a bulk rate.

Google's wireless service is expected to launch as early as Wednesday. CNET

Google has been readying its own wireless service for smartphones, and it could launch in the US as early as Wednesday, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The service, which would compete with local wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon, is expected to let customers pay only for the data they use on the network. That would mean users only pay when they make calls, listen to music or use apps, as opposed to common wireless service agreements that charge a bulk rate for a certain amount of data.

What Google wants to do is somewhat unique, according to the Journal's report. The company plans to offer two types of services that overlap. When users are on Wi-Fi, their phone calls and other data would use that connection. When not on a Wi-Fi signal, customers would use common cellular radio signals, which are more costly.

Google isn't building its own wireless network to do this. Instead, the Internet giant has reportedly made a deal with US carriers Sprint and T-Mobile to use their networks. For now, this scheme is only expected to be available on Google's Nexus 6 smartphone.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Google's new wireless service underscores its ever-growing ambitions in the wireless industry. The company began its efforts in 2005, when it purchased the nascent Android mobile phone software and began giving it away to handset makers such as Samsung, LG and Lenovo. Today, Android powers more than 80 percent of the world's smartphones and commands significant influence in the wireless industry.

The next step for the search giant is to expand into how the cellular and wireless connections themselves are delivered to you.

For wireless companies, Google's entrance to the market is potentially worrisome. Google, with its resources and influence, has the power to shake up the entire industry.

When Google product chief Sundar Pichai confirmed the wireless service in February, he sought to reassure the carriers. He said Google's wireless service was meant to be a small scale experiment. Google's rationale is said to be in trying to innovate new practices and pricing models and trying to get the wireless industry at large to follow suit.

Wireless service isn't the only industry Google's hoping to upend. The company began taking on the home-and-business Internet service providers in 2010 with a project it calls Google Fiber. The service offers Internet connections to people's homes in cities like Kansas City and Austin for much less than larger rivals Comcast, AT&T and Verizon charge.

Google is also hoping to bring its service efforts to developing countries. The company has been building a way to beam Internet connectivity to rural populations via high-flying balloons with a project called Loon. Google is also experimenting with satellites for the same purpose.