SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Trevor Parsons, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java, Wireless, Web 2.0, Open Web, SDN Journal

@ThingsExpo: Article

Google Can Run Wireless Industry by Proxy

No need to become a wireless carrier

Some people really want Google to be a wireless carrier. The most recent speculative episode was early in April when The Information published an exclusive suggesting that Google might be thinking about an MVNO deal with Verizon or AT&T, based on comments by people who were unnamed (but might have been close to Google).

Now I don't want to be picky, but the notion that Google might want to become a wireless carrier has been talked about by unnamed "experts" in bars for many years, and lots of that speculation has been published with enthusiasm. It is rather evident that becoming a wireless carrier might be something that Google (and Apple or Samsung) could seriously consider. For Google especially the pairing of wireless with fixed broadband access might seem attractive, but it's hardly a novel concept. Note that if any of those companies want to move into the mobile wireless carrier space in a hurry, then an MVNO deal with one of the major U.S. wireless operators is the only way to do it. Google doesn't own the spectrum needed to provide nationwide cellular coverage, so renting another carrier's capacity is the only practical way forward. No new insights there.

And speaking of spectrum: it was in 2007 that people were speculating that Google's intention was to compete as a wireless carrier when Google announced it would bid on the newly available 700MHz bands. Why bid for spectrum unless you want to become a wireless company? People were asking themselves, "Could Google kill the cellphone industry?" Eventually it became clear that Google's objective was not to become a carrier, but to ensure that at least some carriers were required to offer spectrum that would be open to any device. The ploy sort of succeeded. In the January 2008 auctions, Google managed to push the price up and the purchasers were committed to some openness, but not with any enthusiasm. Google didn't have to buy spectrum to make an impact - it just had to say it would bid (a ruse dubbed the "Google Effect" by one team of researchers.) Chunks of this spectrum were still being hawked from carrier to carrier as recently as January 2014 (one careful owner, good condition, lightly used).

When Google decided to go into the device business in 2008 with the launch of its first Android phone, people thought that might be a clue that Google was still aiming to be a carrier. But no, Google actually just wanted to go into the device business. Speculation rose again with the launch of Google's own branded phone, the Nexus One, in January 2010, but again we found that Google's aim was just to disrupt the phone distribution model (in which it didn't succeed) - not to become a wireless carrier.

And let's not forget the excitement around Google's 2011 MVNO experiment in Spain, which was going to lead to Google setting up MVNOs across Europe. It didn't happen right away, but that didn't stop the same rumor emerging when the EU promised (or threatened) in May 2012 to get tough on excessive roaming charges.  It was speculated this would create a wireless opportunity not just for Google, but for Apple too.

Google is already one of the dominant players in wireless. In July 2013, Google Play overtook the Apple Store as the leader in number of mobile app downloads. Google's Android OS is now the best-selling mobile device platform in every major world market. Google Voice has hardly started to achieve its potential yet, but in principle it could become a cross-platform, multi-carrier asset when Google decides to give the product some serious attention. And in 2012 when Google acquired Motorola Mobility, it rather quickly sucked all the patents out of it and now plans to sell off the Motorola manufacturing business to Lenovo, suggesting that Google has interests wider than the mundane world of running factories.

Similarly, it's likely that Google has less interest than fans might think in the mundane world of running wireless networks. Carrying the bits safely across the network is an essential and noble trade, but increasingly it's not where the real action is. Being a wireless carrier is geographically constrained, subject to regulation in most countries and relatively labor-intensive. It also requires operational skill sets that Google may not have or wish to acquire. If Google can run the wireless industry by proxy, through deals and partnerships, and by exercising influence through platforms, apps and over-the-top services, that might be more fun than becoming a ‘me too' wireless carrier and picking fights with the incumbents. If Google ever decides to become a wireless carrier it will not be because they feel an urge to become a conventional phone company. It will be because they have dreamed up a disruptive business model that will shake up the market. And that will be news, when it happens.

Interested in learning more about these industry developments (and rumors)? Tweet us your questions!

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, product marketing, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of OSS software, now part of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq:EXTR). At Avici Systems (Nasdaq:AVCI), Esmeralda was Vice President of Marketing for the networking pioneer from startup through its successful IPO. Early in her career, she was a Director at IDC, where she led the network consulting practice and worked with startup and leading software and hardware companies, and Wall Street clients on product and market strategies. Esmeralda holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University.

You can view her other blogs at www.metratech.com/blog.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay sa...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting an...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Application Performance Management and DevOps at CA Technologies, has joined DevOps Journal’s authors. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Aruna's inaugural article "Four Essential Cultural Hacks for DevOps Newbies" discusses how to demonstrate the...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's