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Google’s Project Nova Will Deliver Wireless Plans In Coming Months

Photo courtesy of SurfGuard via Flickr

Here’s what you should know about Google’s Project Nova, a potentially disruptive venture into the cellular market.

[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”vxvcjrPOjGrrehRCB56TylUzHqgYI0X2″]Google has its toes dipped, now, in just about every arena imaginable. Its various projects are reaching for lofty goals including balloon-delivered free internet, modular smart phones, driverless cars, augmented reality, life extension and much more.

Knowing the tech giant’s affinity for innovative moonshots and expansion, it comes as little surprise that Google’s Project Nova, confirmed at 2015’s Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, could be Google’s next great venture — this time, into the cellular industry.

Here’s what we know so far.

1. Project Nova would sell mobile phone plans directly to customers and manage their calls and mobile data over a virtual network.

Reported first by The Information and verified to be underway by The Verge and others, the service is expected to piggyback over Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks instead of building its own by purchasing bandwidth from them.

This would make Google a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) rather than a carrier.

2. By aggregating multiple carriers, Google would expand its coverage footprint.

While Google’s intentions to get more people Internet and data access for cheaper appears altruistic (and may indeed in part be), such plans will benefit Google by making its own usage, mobile and otherwise, more ubiquitous.

3. Google wants to get creative with plan pricing, and to make make wifi and cell networks seamless.

After buying access to established networks, Google’s own network would sell its own data and talk plans, with a goal of making wifi and cellular data work together for the best quality and speed, and using technology that could reconnect dropped calls automatically.

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The model may also include the offering of new types of communication apps, though little is known about what these could be.

4. Though not intended to disrupt national carriers, it could still be a threat.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google executive and Android strategist Sundar Pichai said of Project Nova that its intention is not to compete with the US’ four carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), but to demonstrate technical innovations such carriers could adopt.

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But coupled with Google’s other projects like Google Fiber and Project Loon, Google’s foray into Internet delivery shows its ambitions are more likely than not to cause a ripple in the traditional mobile business.

5. Since its announcement, Google’s stock price has seen a significant rise.

The announcement of Project Nova coincided with a rise in Google stock price, up 2.3 percent at $571.34 a share that day. This rise may also have to do with some of Google’s other recent developments, like the launch of Android Pay and its decision to break up and change the social network Google+.

6. It has already been tested by several employees, and will likely be released later in 2015.

Google Nova will be for the US only, and according to Pichai, the network will launch in the next couple of months on a small scale, with features it hopes others will adopt. The result may be a completely unified cellular experience — the beginning of an evolution that veers away from traditional models.

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Jennifer Markert