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Posted at 8:53 AM ET, 12/30/2010

Will Google compete with Verizon, AT&T in mobile market?

By Hayley Tsukayama

The Nexus One was largely considered a bust, but CNN Money reported Thursday morning that Google is in the position to enter the mobile market as a service provider.

The question, of course, is whether or not the company would want to enter the market.

As CNN points out, the search giant has been assembling the pieces to take on AT&T or Verizon, by buying up infrastructure, offering Google Voice, and licensing Android phones.

But just because Google owns the components, it doesn't mean the company will move in that direction. After all, acquisition has become sort of a hobby for the company, which has been buying up a lot of Web operations, drawing the ire of Web companies, antitrust lawyers and The Post's Steven Pearlstein.

Google's doing well for itself in the mobile market with Android, and analysts said it seemed unlikely that the company would take on such an expensive project right now.

"While I think Google could become a mobile provider, I'd view it as a nuclear option," said Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

What do you think? Would you like to see Google as a service provider? Or are you nervous about Google's expansion?

By Hayley Tsukayama  | December 30, 2010; 8:53 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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Comments

Competition is good and necessary in our economic system. Google's entry into the service promider market would fundamentally change the market for the better and consumers would benefit. I think all would benefit from verizon, at&t, tmobile, sprint, etc. being significantly challenged by having a big dog jump in the marketplace and shake things up. The question I have is weather Google is approaching the size of say microsoft and morphing from one competing entity into a dominate and dictatorial monopoly.

Posted by: jstimpert | December 30, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Google would need to make a significant further investment to put towers in place across the country. Google clearly has the bandwidth and pipes needed for such a service, but without towers they can't go mobile. It certainly possible that Google could decide to do that, but they'd probably want to see how just being an Internet Service Provider goes first.

Posted by: flipples | December 30, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't see them taking that option at all, not short term. But IF they were to set up their own network I can say now with reasonable certainty, even before seeing their proposed plans, that I trust google will treat me right and I would jump ship with my current provider in a heart beat.

Posted by: d33mon | December 30, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Intriguing possibility but unlikely. Google's primary goal here must be to distribute as many Android devices as possible to enhance the services they offer to more and more people. The Nexus One was an attempt to disrupt the distribution model of the carriers but Americans were not ready to buy cell phones like they buy PCs---from an online site. Similarly Google is launching in 2011 the names of those communities that they intend to bring fibre optic internet speeds and like the Nexus One (whose success was in showing the manufacturers and carriers what is technologically possible), will show politicians in Washington and carriers what Americans want in terms of internet speeds. If they can get the carriers to buy into speed with Washington's assistance, then they will have achieved their goal and will benefit mightily as we become a more mobile device/smartphone/laptop society with fast WiFi type speeds everywhere.

Posted by: modelportfolio2003 | December 30, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Since They did not buy any spectrum when it was available I don't see them becoming a full fledged network provider. However installing wifi hot spots in major cities is realistic. That coupled with voice over ip in phones that don't require a cell signal They would in essence become a network provider. That would be great for consumers But they would face massive blow back from the other providers. But in a few years if android becomes even bigger they can risk it.

Posted by: jbernard703 | December 30, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Google is all about Apps/Services/Content. They only invest in Hardware in order to get a market segment to get going.
They are the CLOUD, and if anything will dominate the Content aggregation and distribution services from their base of Data Centers.
Look how they introduced GoogleTV, using 3rd party vendors for hardware and providing the OS & Browser to allow management and control of what they want to see.
Also, their new Google TV approach will eventually dominate the way people use their HDTV and leverage the Internet and Search to manage their viewing. I predict the Studios and Broadcasters will come around (get their head out of the sand) and allow Google access and use of their content-benefiting all.
Maybe even buy NetFlix and Hulu-OH!mt.
Jim A.

Posted by: jimaimone | December 30, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Someone has to show that wifi with VOIP
has much more to offer the public than old cell-tower based technology. Google's greatest challenge is the entrenched cellular investment that will take years to amortize. A Google Nexus One with Google Voice and a wifi connection does everything a cellular phone does without an expensive voice, text, data plan and long term contract...and faster too.

Posted by: El-Gran-Antado | December 30, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Quite frankly, I have been expecting this move from Apple, not Google. They are carefully placing all the chess pieces on the board: iPods, iPhones, iPads, iMacs and MacBooks. And now with the introduction of Facetime and its deployment throughout their entire product line, they are ready to do that. There are two pieces left to complete the puzzle: the startup of their datacenter in Charlotte, and the purchase of spectrum in the next auction by the FCC. In the absence of available spectrum, they can always purchase a telecom company. It is very interesting that they can go ahead with a single or twofold strategy: wifi alone with better hotspot coverage future technology - this is the reason for their wifi only devices - and the whole deployment going after the new 4G technology.

Posted by: solgelos | December 30, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Last I heard, the new White Spaces spectrum was coming up for grabs, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Google leap at that. White Spaces sound promising, but so does WiMax2 technology.

If Google does get into the game, they should follow Clear Wire's example: No contracts and no monthly data caps! Small monthly payments (eg. $20/month) with no long-term obligations to get large-scale ultra-broadband, mobile Internet access for VOIP and data usage is the next step in the evolution of the Internet.

I'd love to see Google tackle this head on.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | December 30, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I would doubt they wish to make such a move, since as mentioned in previous comments, they do not own cell towers and would have to build an entire infrastructure that would cost billions. I would sooner see them purchasing a large provider such as T-Mobile if FCC would allow it. Such an idea would bring about a big shift in the market that I would welcome since I currently use T Mobile. They are a very gay friendly company that I would love supporting moreso.

Posted by: photolarry | December 30, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Google seems to be pretty smart about their future bets.

They are running 2 mobile operating systems. One, Chrome, is cloud based. The other, Android, relies on local apps and storage. This gives them flexibility in the future of the mobile device Market.

Apply this to what we are seeing with Net Neutrality. If regulation sticks and the ISPs become "dead pipes" to some degree, Google is in a comfortable position. If the ISPs are left to regulate themselves, they can theoretically cut Google off completely. Google needs an ISP presence to ensure their services will be delivered in the future.

As more people access the internet wirelessly, a wireless ISP presence makes more sense.

Posted by: NickM3 | December 30, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

They COULD always just buy T-Mobile and improve on it.... They certainly have the money to do such a thing and I think T-Mobile's been on the market for years....

Posted by: santinelli | December 30, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Google pushed the FCC to approve the Super WiFi standard recently. With the potential of Super WiFi signals to carry bundled services including high speed VoIP and rich content/video over a 30 mile range, it is not a leap to conclude that Google will want to become their own provider. When you stitch together Google TV, Android, Nexus One, Google books, internet search, social media, local advertising, location based services and their massive cloud computing capability, Google could cut out the middleman and become a direct competitor to the major carriers. By offering free and secure internet access via internally owned Super WiFi networks, Google would recoup its investment through ad sells, financial transactions, and direct sales to customers. Google can reach the majority of US based customers by building out Super WiFi networks in high density area's. This is not as much of a technical challenge as a local or regional regualtory challenge. While Google is not the only company that will have to face regulatory issues in deploying Super WiFi, they may be one of the companies that benfit most in addressing the problem.

Posted by: joemelbourne | December 31, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Nervous about Google's expansion? Hey, I'm old enough to remember when if you wanted to make a phone call, AT&T was definitely involved. Your local service could be from an independent phone company, but any call you made outside your local service area ... AT&T was in charge. Thanks to the late Judge Green for fixing that. Google will never get that level of control, so as far as I'm concerned they can keep right on acquiring whatever they want to acquire.

Posted by: artyaffe | December 31, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Nervous about Google's expansion? Hey, I'm old enough to remember when if you wanted to make a phone call, AT&T was definitely involved. Your local service could be from an independent phone company, but any call you made outside your local service area ... AT&T was in charge. Thanks to the late Judge Green for fixing that. Google will never get that level of control, so as far as I'm concerned they can keep right on acquiring whatever they want to acquire.

Posted by: artyaffe | December 31, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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