All the rumors about Google and DISH Network starting a wireless service together got me thinking about the impact that kind of deal would have.
Google likes to invest heavily in its future. When it has a goal, it usually can’t be deterred from achieving it. Just one example: Google+ was launched when Facebook and Twitter already had hundreds of millions of accounts. Analysts are skeptical and the social network has only a reported 170 million users, not near Facebook’s 900 and something million. But Google maintains it’s building Google+ for the long haul.
But why would Google and DISH want to enter a huge, mature market and compete with giants like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint? The answer’s simple: Android.
With each update, Android becomes more customizable and more focused on the needs of the user. I like that Google listens to what people say and improves the overall experience frequently: user interface, accessibility, innovation.
Still, as I wrote few weeks ago, Google’s biggest problem with Android is fragmentation. Another challenge is that the company can’t make the same deals Apple completes with worldwide carriers. Users are strongly affected when devices like Nexus 4 are released and lack crucial features, as has happened with LTE, because Google can’t reach a deal with mobile carriers.
This is one of the main reasons why Google is going further and wants to team up with another big player like DISH. If Google were able to create a wireless service, it could set its own rules, which would eventually kill fragmentation. Google has already said it will start to offer the Platform Development Kit to Android OEMs two or three months before every major release. This way OEMs will have time to deliver their custom-built versions of Android.
Another advantage subscribers might see on a Google-DISH wireless service would be lower prices, since Google could actually sell devices and impose its own plans and charges. Since Google and Android OEMs are partners in the Open Handset Alliance, this should be easy.
DISH’s Flirtation with LTE
DISH, one of the biggest U.S. satellite TV providers, flirted with the idea of becoming an LTE provider last May. And it wasn’t just a rumor, since the company and the FCC held advanced talks. DISH hoped it could reach 60 million subscribers in three years, while the FCC was looking for 90 million. DISH couldn’t do anything in May because it had to wait until December, when the 3GPP will finalize the specs for its implementation of LTE-Advanced.
In short, Google needs DISH, and DISH needs Google. It’s not official, but both companies want the same thing, and I think a new LTE carrier is inevitable. It’s going to be tough at first, because both would have to invest a lot in high-end equipment, but for these two, I don’t think that will be a problem.
This looks like a big challenge for Google. With projects like Fiber and Project Glass just beginning, it can’t make compromises with a wireless carrier. If it isn’t able to go all-in, it might risk going backwards.
FCC Supports DISH
The latest good news comes from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is backing DISH Network’s plans to build a new U.S. mobile network. By the end of the year, we should know whether DISH will go it alone, or together with Google.