The Wall Street Journal and tech news site The Information today are reporting that Google has closed deals with Sprint and T-Mobile, and is moving ahead this year on long brewing plans to launch a wireless service of its own.
Details on the project, codenamed "Nova", are scarce.
Becoming an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) like Straight Talk, TracFone, or Virgin Mobile means that Google will be able to avoid the massive expense of building its own nationwide cellular network. Instead, Google will be buying data wholesale from Sprint and T-Mobile, and then handling the sales, marketing, service, and support for Nova customers itself.
Google reportedly had sought a deal with Verizon as well - though Verizon refused. With only T-Mobile and Sprint networks to tap into, future Google offerings will struggle with matching the breadth of nationwide coverage that Verizon and AT&T have.
But... What will Google be offering when their service goes live? Will this be a wireless service bundled only with Google-branded Nexus devices, or will it be open to a wider range of mobile gadgets? How much will it cost? How will it be sold? How will usage be limited?
The Wall Street Journal speculates that Google might start by offering wireless service only in certain cities, or offered as a bundle to Google Fiber customers.
But whatever the initial offering - it is certainly clear that Google is aiming to be a major player and not just another budget MVNO. Increased competition brought by Google will hopefully lead to lower prices, increased data caps, faster speeds, and better service for all of us.
Google is also lobbying the FCC to open up more unlicensed spectrum (similar to WiFi) that could be used to offer extremely fast and affordable service in dense urban areas, and Google is even investing in SpaceX's plans for satellite internet service too.
Google's got some mighty big ambitions here. The question then becomes - will this be a blockbuster like Gmail and Android, a fizzled experiment like Google Glass, or something that people grow to love only to have Google kill it - like Google Reader?