Economy, Sci & Tech

Google to End Roaming Costs for Americans

Google to End Roaming Costs for Americans
Google to End Roaming Costs for Americans

Google has announced that it has been in intense talks with Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of Britain's Three network to allow US citizens to use their phones in Europe at no extra cost, the Telegraph reported this week.

The two companies said they are discussing using a wholesale access agreement that would become an important part of Google's future plans to change the US mobile network with its own service.  Google is believed to be creating a universal global network for its customers to make calls and browse the internet no matter where they are positioned at the time. By working with the Hong Kong conglomerate operator, the search giant would be given immediate access to the UK's, Ireland's and Italy's airwaves to start, with several more countries joining later.

What Google's plans amount to, is a new global Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO for short, which would rely on large wholesale data and voice contracts to supply its consumers. Google isn't likely to be building its own masts anytime soon, but it is likely to be doing this method for the next few years to come.

The company described it as a “small scale” project. Industry analysts expect Google to use its network to put pressure on the pricing of America’s biggest mobile operators, AT&T and Verizon, who enjoy higher profit margins than their European counterparts.

It could also use the project to encourage operators to invest in new technology to improve mobile coverage via Wi-Fi networks.

Google has adopted a similar strategy in the US fixed-line telecoms market with Google Fiber, its project to build fiber optic networks in cities where there has been a lack of investment in internet infrastructure. Its Nexus range of own-brand smartphones is similarly seen as a way to influence hardware manufacturers. Sources told the Telegraph that Google has no plans to offer a mobile network to British consumers and is unlikely for the foreseeable future. The European telecoms market is relatively competitive and roaming charges are already on their way to being abolished by regulators.

Though Google’s plans are believed to be modest, a serious move by Google or Apple to enter the mobile market would be feared by many traditional telecoms providers.