Google is apparently talking with operators around the world regarding its upcoming mobile network, potentially allowing subscribers to roam for no extra charge, and its UK partner could be Three.
The search giant has reportedly held talks with Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of UK network Three, over a potential wholesale deal. This deal would allow subscribers to the company’s upcoming network, which is initially planned to launch to US customers, to come to the UK and use their phone as they would at home, with zero extra roaming charges.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Three stood out as the obvious choice when the Google began looking for a European partner, given the company’s own plans to wipe-out roaming charges via its ‘Feel At Home’ initiative. Presumably the move also takes into account the company’s pending acquisition of O2 which, if ratified, would see it overtake EE to become the biggest mobile supplier in the UK.
Google’s decision to enter into the mobile carrier business is no great surprise. The company has had success in the US with its Google Fibre network, which brings gigabit fibre broadband to desperate customers stuck on sub-par ADSL. The search giant looks set to emulate that level of ground-breaking success with the launch of its own virtual mobile network, which would inevitably offer mobile contracts at much cheaper rates than what our Stateside cousins are currently forking up.
If Google secures partnerships with other operators around the world and is able to offer its users zero roaming fees, it’s sure to become an instant hit with globe-trotting businesses. Businesses who currently endure the likes of Verizon’s $25 a month contract for just 100MB of data, with $25 per extra 100MB charges if you go over that lofty allowance.
Despite the mighty Google’s US plans already being at a relatively advanced stage, the company reportedly has no interest in launching in the UK – or anywhere else. Which is handy for Google, because potential partners might not have responded so positively with the spectre of such a mighty competitor hanging over them.
Here in the UK, we’re still waiting to see the outcome of two potentially massive takeovers, as BT looks to buy out EE and Three hopes to envelop O2. There’s obvious concern that a reduced number of mobile networks could mean rising prices, but we’re already enjoying decreased 4G charges thanks to the freshly-launched BT Mobile. Here’s hoping the trend for affordable data plans stays alive and well, as MVNOs such as Tesco Mobile continue to offer impressive value for money.