Monday, April 13, 2015

Google in Roaming Talks With Hutchison Whampoa

U.S. internet giant Google is said to be in talks with Hong Kong-based multinational telecom operator Hutchison Whampoa about gaining wholesale access to the latter’s mobile networks in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and several other countries. Google is understood to be planning to create a global network that will charge the same for calls, texts and mobile data regardless of the customer’s location. Describing it as a “small scale” project, Google previously announced plans to launch an MVNO relying on wholesale agreements in the U.S. and abroad. Neither Google nor 3 UK, Hutchison’s U.K. subsidiary, would comment on the matter.

In January Google announced plans to launch a U.S. MVNO running on two networks (T-Mobile and Sprint), and in March followed that up with an announcement that when the service debuts—originally set for March but now said to be within the next few months—it would initially be compatible only with the latest model of Google’s own Nexus brand smartphone. Compared to the potential agreement with Hutchison that is reportedly afoot, these are “small-scale” plans indeed. If the deal proceeds as projected, Google would be creating an international mobile cellular service that utterly ignores borders and, for its users in the included countries, would put an end to roaming as a concept. We have already written about the trend toward ending roaming in several regions, but this type of agreement could be a game-changer, given Google’s deep pockets and huge reach. And Hutchison, which is in the process of merging its 3 UK operation with Telef√≥nica’s O2 to possibly become the U.K.’s largest mobile operator, would be a strong partner in such a venture.

The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues or to speak with the research team:

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