Google inks deal to be Sprint MVNO

Google inks deal to be Sprint MVNO
A few days ago, reports circulated that Google was in negotiations with both Sprint, and T-Mobile USA for purposes of becoming a reseller of those carriers’ networks and offering its own branded wireless service.

However, Businessweek reported that Google has indeed already signed a reseller contract with Sprint, and that SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, was a key player in making the deal happen.

People familiar with the situation did not reveal financial terms of the agreement, but it is said the arrangement is similar to other MVNO contracts that are in place with other providers. There are other reports though that say Google is going to pay a wholesale rate of just $2 per-gigabyte of data. Sprint likely has a clause in its agreement allowing a renegotiation of the contract if Google ends up taking on a large number of subscribers should the search giant opt to try and low-ball the market with ultra-cheap price plans.

For Google, this offers an added measure of control and continuity for the customer experience across the board. If the wholesale rates are accurate, that may position Google to further blast open the price war that T-Mobile and Sprint are having with each other, and are trying to have with AT&T and Verizon.

As for the prospect of Google effectively competing with carriers that it has agreements with (like selling the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet), this development will likely not alter that part of the landscape too much. Google already competes with network providers in markets for internet service (Google Fiber) and various Wi-Fi hotspots.  Plus, there are substantial differences in the disposition of AT&T's and Verizon's networks and Sprint's and T-Mobile's.

Details about Google signing on the dotted line with T-Mobile are still pending, but there may already be a contract executed there as well. There have been no official announcements about any of these deals. Google is expected to offer service sometime this year. How it will be offered, and how much it will cost are all matters of speculation right now.

Is Google in a better position to operate a successful MVNO? It will depend on how it is marketed, and sold of course, but given the relative financial health, and breadth of services that Google provides, it can likely afford to play the long game with this plan, even forecast losses for years while the project (called Nova) gains momentum. There is also a matter of the two incompatible standards of Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks in both 3G, and 4G, and the fact that neither network really has an edge on the other when it comes to physical coverage.

sources: Bloomberg and CNN

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18 Comments

2. vincelongman

Posts: 5623; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Cool Hopefully Google Project Nova shakes up the carriers like Google Fiber is shaking up the ISPs

4. silencer271

Posts: 254; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Yeah choose the WORST carrier LOL

6. wkm001

Posts: 145; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

Luckily the bar is set pretty low for MVNO support and that is what Google is the worst at. They should open the old Page Plus support center in Ohio, I think. They were excellent.

7. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

It's quite a disappointment that Google would even consider a CDMA carrier, a standard widely used only in the US and that violates the right of property its customers.

8. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

all lte devices are sim

9. Salazzi

Posts: 537; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

Tell me about it. Sprint is a piece of sh*t. I thought the worst was behind them, and they learned from their mistakes but boy was I wrong. My brother in law had bought an iPhone 6 plus when they came out, from Sprint, as they were the only ones in stock. The expectation was that it should be relatively simple to unlock it and use it on a different carrier. Wrong. Sprint kept giving the run-around, saying they can't unlock it.. that you need some code from Apple, while Apple in turn saying that it's up to each carrier to unlock devices locked to them and that Apple has nothing to do with it. I'm inclined to believe Apple. So anyways, the phone wasn't unlocked and he had to return it after trying for a few days to fight Sprint on unlocking it. You're spot on correct that they violate property rights to the T. Why shouldn't you be able to get unlocked a device you paid full price for? I realized how crummy the carrier is. While other carriers are unlocking their devices (T-Mobile and Verizon devices come unlocked while AT&T generally does so upon request), Sprint locks them and refuses to unlock them. While other carriers abandon contracts, Sprint pushes them. I believe that even if you're making monthly payments on your phone, they still make you sign a contract. I'd be able to say that with certainty if their website worked right now, instead of saying they're busy enhancing it (ha, since when has Sprint enhanced anything?)

16. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

Can't disagree with you about Sprints stance on unlocking devices, but they're not at ALL pushing contracts. As with any company who sells devices with installment billing, you aren't signing a contact for service like you used to in the past. You're signing an installment billing agreement where you only agree to pay off the entire price of the device. If you break that early, you need to pay the remainder all at once, like a termination fee. So they're not making you sign anything different than what T-Mobile is when they sell a phone... Sprint pushes hard to NOT sell 2yr contacts with subsidized phones, but they can't abandon it entirely if a large part of your customer base still expects a "free phone" every couple of years

18. Salazzi

Posts: 537; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

By making you sign contract even when you're paying off your phone, I meant an actual literal 2 year contract, not the deal that T-Mobile and the likes have. Because with T-Mo, you can pay your device off early and leave, but with Sprint, you can pay it off but you're still locked in until contract expiry.

45. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

That's completely wrong. Easy Pay is the name of Sprint's installment billing program, which lets you pay the device off as early as you want, without penalty...2 months, 13 months, or the full 24 months, doesn't matter. There is no contract for service, so when your device is paid off, you're immediately eligible for an upgrade or you're free to leave without a fee

14. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1793; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

I've been saying this since the nexus 5 came out operating on att tmobile and sprint... Up until then there wasn't a phone that could be activated on att tmobile and sprint. That phone was a stepping stone to see if it could be done... After that I knew something was going on hence the merger talk between sprint and tmobile. They had a phone that could operate on both. When that deal fell through it seems Google knew something, now we see what they wanted to do. They've already shook up the market with their fiber service, I know because I live in Kansas City , time warner and comcast are losing customers by the gigabytes and they're lowering prices in this area to compete. If this mvno really takes off this could be the start of a serious isp/wireless provider!

17. frmrVZguy

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

WOW this is big !! I keep a TMo line + my VZW line because I can SMS worldwide at no extra charge. In a world where we com by short msg this is a huge network and carrier advatange for RCS platforms and the ad & app monetization it represents. Global calling is inexpensive too. TMo & Sprint seem to have the greater network capacity available - based on the recent speedtests - and MVNO trends are big business. VirginBroadband service in my area is = to VZW BB @ lower $. Mr. Son scores big ! GOOG knows they want that speed reputation too. This gives GOOG chat apps big service advantage. Readers that don't know what RCS is: search JOYN

24. Johnabis

Posts: 60; Member since: Feb 17, 2011

Would this be possible. Google would use say a nexus 6 that can work on every US carrier, the phone would use both Tmobile's and Sprints Data network at the same time. it would choose whatever has the strongest signal, voice would be google voice only so it would only use the data network only, would that be possible?

35. engineer-1701d unregistered

that's basically sprint spark but with 2 (different) networks

28. techfirst101

Posts: 16; Member since: Sep 14, 2013

This is an interesting way to effectively merge T-mobile and Sprint (assuming they can effectively switch between carriers depending on speed/coverage etc) without actually trying to get through the FCC with a real merger.

29. aenews

Posts: 25; Member since: Jan 25, 2015

Well it's great Google is doing this, but if they choose only Sprint, their service wouldn't be any better than FreedomPop's. Right now I get a whole gig from FreedomPop for $0.00 and use Hangouts exclusively. Never bothered installing their app. Hope this brings more to the table!

32. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I'm excited that Google is doing this, but I wish it was on Tmobile first. CDMA is a dying tech and sprint is slow as heck.

46. tokuzumi

Posts: 1821; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Sprint? Oh well....

47. jpkelly05

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I am extremely surprised no one has commented on what is going on with Google's Nova plan here. None of you get the big picture. Google isn't just getting into this for the masses just to sell CDMA or GSM. It certainly isn't about Sprint or T-Mobiles plans or coverage alone either. IMO this is a way to sell their own product (Nexus or Silver) AND Possibly any other manufactured device with out interuption from the US carriers to Googles Updates. I could imagine also buying Googles product serviced MVNO depending on my area. Sometimes Sprint is better, sometimes Tmo. Meaning the End User decides which Service he or she wants for their area. I could imagine once Nova gets off the ground and Cell service becomes a better cheaper alternative as a whole, AT&T and Verizon might consider jumping on too but only if they are making money. I hope this happens because I am tired of bloatware and tired of carriers slowing down updates. IMO the argument of who the better US Carrier is is a crappy debate. They all truely SUCK BALLS. None of them care about us. If they really cared they would stop and look at the rest of the world and see how the best services in the world are (Speed of Data, Cost, Upgrade Timeliness and bloat), and make a better service because we are America motherf**ker's. We are supposed to be the example. Yet... Fail.

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