Google Wireless Aims at International Roaming

Carl Weinschenk
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Developing Tech: What's Next?

One of Google’s side businesses seems to be providing agita to telecommunications executives. The best example is Google Fiber, of course. The company’s nascent Google Wireless seems to be ready to carry the tradition onward.

The Telegraph reports that Google is in discussions with Hutchison Whampoa, owner of the cellular carrier Three, to provide a reciprocal free roaming agreement. According to the report:

It is understood that Google aims to create a global network that will cost the same to use for calls, texts and data no matter where a customer is located. By linking up with Hutchison, it could gain wholesale access to mobile service in the UK, Ireland, Italy and several more countries where the Hong Kong conglomerate owns mobile networks.

The story goes into depth about Google’s goals for its wireless project, which was announced at Mobile World Congress in early March. The major aim, like that of Google Fiber, is almost certainly to goad the bigger incumbents into being more proactive.


Android Authority suggested that Google is likely in talks aimed at the same type of arrangements with other carriers worldwide. The move is a natural one, according to the commentary:

Free roaming appears to be a logical extension to Google’s approach in the US. The company has reportedly already signed deals with Sprint and T-Mobile to buy wholesale data, which Google would resell to its users. Google’s customers won’t have to worry about getting the best signal, as the service will automatically switch to the network with the best reception in the area. Roaming will presumably work in a similar way.

International roaming is nothing new, of course. Last week, for instance, Sprint said that its Unlimited Plus plan now provides extended roaming in several Latin American countries. The Google plan, apparently, is to push carriers to accelerate such initiatives and to deploy technology that more fully incorporates Wi-Fi into the mix.

International Roaming

Though the story doesn’t go into detail, the emerging way to seamlessly meld cellular and Wi-Fi networks is the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). Last October, Mobile World Live reported that China Mobile, KPN and iBasis said that they had used IMS to complete the first Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call between mobile carriers. The very goal of the Google plan – overseas roaming – was cited as a potential benefit of the capability demonstrated in that trial.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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