Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dish Network, Google to team on data-only wireless carrier

Here comes a new wireless carrier, and you can bet it will be the carrier that will get access to Google's Nexus devices first. The service will be Google's itself, in partnership with satellite provider Dish Network.

News of the service first arose on Friday night, with more details arising on Saturday. While exact details aren't available, what's known is that Google is far into development of the service with plans to have it rolled out and live by mid- to late-2013.

The service will reportedly be data-only, sort of. Voice and SMS services will be offered, but as those who use Google Voice for texting know, it's not necessary to have regular voice service to text (normal text messages ride for free on top of the wireless carrier signal, whereas Google Voice simulates that using a data service).

It's also not necessary to have regular voice service to make calls, either, as those who use Skype or other VOIP services know.

For Dish, the advantage of the partnership is obvious. Dish has previously said on that it would like to build a wireless network with the spectrum it acquired in 2008, but Dish wants a partner to assist in the endeavor. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said potential partners include companies "who would like to be in the industry" and currently don't have a wireless business.

For Google, the advantage is more subtle. Google is launching its Glass smart eyewear in 2013, and would obviously from total control of a network. It's already obvious what can result from lack of full control of a wireless network: Google has seen services such as Google Wallet blocked by carriers such as Verizon.

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It will, of course, be interesting to see if the service comes to fruition. It will mean that Google no longer has to deal with carriers, and can offer its Nexus devices without the issues of carrier subsidy that it currently faces.

Google's first Nexus device, the Nexus One smartphone, while it sold well, did not achieve Google's goal of eschewing the traditional carrier model. Later Nexus devices have generally been sold unlocked and without a traditional carrier subsidy, although the Galaxy Nexus, for example, was sold in carrier-specific Verizon and Sprint versions.

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