After years of being bullied by U.S. carriers, Google has seemingly taken a bold step towards returning the favor. In a move that is sure to shake up the industry, Google and Dish Network have recently reached an agreement that will allow Google to become a wireless carrier itself. This week's question invites you to discuss the potential implications of this deal for you.
First, some background: Google and the Dish Network are apparently still working out the details of the deal, the service is expected to launch by mid-to-late 2013. Currently, the Dish Network is trying to get FCC approval to start its own LTE network, which runs on the AWS-4 frequency band. Meanwhile, Google has been trying to get into the wireless game for some time now, partly due to efforts by U.S. carriers to block Google Wallet and Google Voice.
Predictably, these carriers have tried various tactics to oppose the Dish Network's bid to become a wireless carrier, thus opposing Google's efforts by association. For example, AT&T, fresh off its failed bid to buy T-Mobile, is petitioning the FCC to impose "LightSquared-like" restrictions on the Dish Network's wireless spectrum. Meanwhile, T-Mobile wants the FCC to require that the Dish Network give up half of its spectrum (apparently to prevent the satellite company from selling the spectrum to either AT&T or Verizon). Sprint is also trying to get the FCC to impose restrictions on the Dish Network to prevent interference with H Block spectrum the carrier wants to purchase at auction.
What does this mean for you? Well, as I mentioned in an editorial over 6 months ago, the trend towards cloud services is diametrically opposed to the trend of major U.S. carriers towards tiered data. These trends are even more important now, with more high-end smartphones like the Nexus 4 and the Droid DNA coming with hard storage limits of 8-16 GB and no way to expand this storage with MicroSD cards. While many users are turning to Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.com to compensate for these storage limitations, these options are seriously curtailed by the trend towards tiered data.
One possible solution I mentioned in my editorial was for Google to become a wireless carrier in its own right. Presumably, Google wireless customers would place their calls and SMS messages through Google Voice (in case you didn't know, Google Voice already supports SMS messaging). It is unclear whether the Google/Dish Network carrier would offer unlimited data. Even if their plans are all tiered though, Google's own cloud services might not count against the data cap (of course, this would likely lead to Net Neutrality lawsuits by competing cloud services).
What is your opinion on the implications of a Google/Dish Network LTE carrier? Would Verizon and AT&T be pressured to ease the restrictions on its data plans due to competition from Google? Do you think established carriers will be able to block the Dish Network's bid to launch its own mobile data service?