Google tipped to launch MVNO service Wednesday

It seems that Google's carrier plans are closer than most of us thought. Although many presumed, not without reason, that Google would use the I/O 2015 conference to make the formal reveal, it seems that the tech giant is ready to flip the switch this Wednesday. If true, it could provide a startling new model for wireless carriers that could upset the industry even if only indirectly. Although Google is openly stating that it isn't exactly competing with established carriers, the promises of this "Project Fi" service could prove otherwise.

Perhaps the most substantial difference is how Google plans to handle billing data usage. Current industry practice involves charging subscribers a flat rate for a monthly allocation of data, which expires at the end of the month. This price makes no distinction between actual data used and surplus. Google, on the other hand, is expected to charge only for what the user consumed. Unused data will even be carried over to the next month. It is definitely an offer that mobile data users can only dream of.

That said, Google isn't exactly rolling out its own independent network. Instead, it will be riding on the networks provided by T-Mobile and Sprint, according to sources. Users of Google's service, however, will be able to switch back and forth the two networks automatically, depending on which has the stronger signal at a given moment. In addition, Project Fi will also leverage Wi-Fi networks if such are available instead of completely relying mobile data.

Google insists that it isn't out to compete in the carrier market. To give a bit of credence to that, not only will the service be limited in geographical availability, it will also be, at least initially, limited to the Nexus 6. And we know how rare that smartphone is. That said, a recent leak revealed provisions about switching between devices and support for multiple ones, hinting that it could spread to others in the near future.

Google wants its MVNO thrust to be seen more as an example of how carriers should provide services, pretty much like how its Nexus devices are meant to be examples of how manufacturers should do Android devices. The wireless industry is already experience several shifts and changes, not all of them to the comfort of the carriers. If any, or all, of these rumored features come to pass, then Google's upstart service could very well have that effect it intends.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal