We know the tech industry moves fast, but usually not quite this fast. Google just announced an experimental mobile carrier on March 2 and although it could go live before the end of the month, it will initially only work with Nexus 6 phones.
The new service will piggyback on Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Technically, this is complicated because T-Mobile runs GSM and Sprint has a CDMA network. As a result, Google will need to tweak both the hardware and software the settings of the devices that use the network, which is why it will only work with its own latest Nexus 6 phone. Device manufacturers typically install their own software on top of the Android OS, which would make switching between networks difficult.
The early launch was reported (subscription required) by the Wall Street Journal but did not include any pricing details. The project must have been in the pipeline for months, but it's surprising the story never leaked considering there were three companies involved. For now, Google is insisting that it's only an experiment and that it doesn't intend on becoming a competitor to the likes of T-Mobile and Verizon.
"Our goal is to drive a set of innovations we think should arrive, but do it on a smaller scale, like Nexus devices, so people will see what we're doing," Sundar Pichai, Google senior vice president for products, told the MWC 2015 crowd earlier in the week.
Rather than compete with the big carriers, Google wants to demonstrate the innovations it would like to see in hopes that those networks will then implement the same plans on a larger scale.
The Nexus 6, made by Motorola Mobility, was released late last year, but Google underestimated its demand and the phone was in short supply. No doubt, this announcement will have more people clamoring for a new Nexus 6.
Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo in 2014 and is rumored to be partnering with Huawei for the Nexus 7. Interestingly, the Chinese manufacturer is well-known for its expertise in networking infrastructure, so don't expect this "experiment" to be the last you hear of a Google network.