At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google confirmed ambitions to begin operating a mobile carrier service on a small scale. Google hopes to provide ways for phones to easily move between cellular networks and WiFi connections, perhaps even juggling calls between the two.
This is tried and tested behaviour for Google, which continues to dabble in multiple sectors. Google creates business when users access content. So it makes sense to drive the cost of network access as low as possible while encouraging service providers to improve the networks. Google has shown similar tactics with Google Fiber, which provides benchmark broadband speeds at competitive prices (but only in a handful of North American cities) and the Nexus programme, which aims to design exemplary hardware to showcase the Android software platform, setting a quality bar for manufacturers.
Google also presented updates on Project Loon and Titan: Internet access points that float through the sky. Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the initiatives as ‘sci-fi’ during his talk at MWC. He also downplayed the role of Google and Facebook in connecting the developing world: “It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the real companies that are driving this are the operators and all the investments they’re putting together.”
Floating balloons are unlikely to offer much aid to the CEO of Afghan mobile network Roshan who, in a candid interview, spoke about the landmines, power outages and kidnappings that the business has overcome.