Google to offer own cellular network plan

Google soon will be offering cellular network plans in a bid to bridge the gap between the realms of Internet services and mobile device software it dominates.

Vice president Sundar Pichai says Google, the leading Internet search engine and mobile software provider, is working with unnamed network operators on developing a cellular plan.

“You will see us announce it in the coming months,” he said at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona Spain. “I think we are at a stage where it is important to think about hardware, software and connectability together.

“We want to be able to experiment along those lines.”

Pichai called Google’s plan to offer cellular services “a project” and insisted that the Internet company isn’t a threat to traditional telephone and Internet service providers.

Unconfirmed reports previously linked Google’s plans to wireless carriers Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. The Information, a technology news site, and The Wall Street Journal each had said Google would rely on the wireless companies’ networks in part, rather than building its own network.

A Sprint spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the Google executive’s remarks. The Overland Park-based wireless carrier already sells access to its network to about 150 other companies that market wireless service under their own brands.

Pichai compared Google’s latest move to its decision to launch its own line of Nexus smartphones, which he said Google uses not to compete with other smartphone makers, but to introduce innovations in the greater world of mobile hardware.

“We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale,” he said. “Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the ecosystem should evolve. … Again, we will do it on a small enough scale so that, just like Nexus devices, people see what we are doing and … (we hope) carrier partners think our ideas are good.”

Pichai offered finding a way to provide a “seamless” Internet connection when a device moves from Wi-Fi to cellular coverage as one example of goals Google would like to foster.

Pichai said Google was also working on Android Pay, a mobile payment system similar to Apple Pay, that will work across all Android-powered devices.