Google apparently will try something new in the U.S mobile market: relying on two separate mobile networks, plus Wi-Fi, to support its new mobile service.
In addition to using third party Wi-Fi, Google apparently has signed up both Sprint and T-Mobile US as underlying access providers because Google wants devices used by its customers to switch between Sprint and T-Mobile US and Wi-Fi based on which network has the best signal “right now.”
If that concept sounds familiar, it is because many smartphones can be enabled to behave in precisely that way. The new twist is the ability to hop between a couple of mobile networks, in addition to using Wi-Fi.
The concept mirrors that which supporters of 5G want: a system that will use all available networks for access.
Perhaps only a firm as large and wealthy as Google could try this. No mobile virtual network operator (to my knowledge) ever has signed up to use two different wholesale providers.
So the hope is that by relying on Wi-Fi, Sprint and T-Mobile US network, Google customers often will be able to find one network that actually has a strong signal, even if both Sprint and T-Mobile US networks individually have coverage limitations, compared to Verizon and AT&T.
You might remember that it took Apple to revolutionize the relationship between handset manufacturers and the mobile service providers. Perhaps it is Google–more than T-Mobile US or Sprint–that now will disrupt the U.S. mobile market.
In some ways, this is a concrete method for “sharing spectrum,” as unorthodox as it might be.