Google has been talking with the Three UK and other mobile networks to negotiate the use of mobile phone service for Google clients without being charged an international roaming fee. Google wants customers to have the use all the phone’s services outside the U.S. for free.
This Google Network option is being discussed between Google and Hong Kong-based, Hutchison Whampoa. This could be a powerful global partner in ending international roaming fees for Google customers. Hutchinson Whampoa runs the UK’s, Three network and is in the process of acquiring the UK’s O2 network, currently run by Telefonica. Whampoa operates networks in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Shri Lanka, Macau, Denmark, Italy, Vietnam, Ireland, Austria and Sweden. Three UK also wants to offer their subscribers free roaming, so this could be a great partnership, sharing a vision for customers.
In March, Google announced that it had plans to offer network service for mobile phones using partnerships for the use of their network infrastructure. Sundar Pichai, product chief, said it will be on a smaller scale and it possibly could shake the market. It will change what customers will expect from what networks should offer for service and what it may cost. This makes Google an MVNO so there is no need to build a wireless infrastructure. The company has already bought access to T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks wholesale. It is possible, however, that this network may only be accessed with the Nexus 6.
Roaming fees are very high for those who travel to other countries. International roaming fees are charged to all mobile phone services; calls, texts and data transfers. The only choices people have are to pay the outlandish international roaming fees or go without mobile service when traveling.
A break from roaming fees has become a big draw and it is being used by smaller carriers to challenge larger carriers. T-Mobile has taken customers from AT&T and Verizon by offering some free international roaming benefits.
In France, Iliad Group’s Free Mobile has a unique offer. The customer gets 35 days of calling, text and data per year in 15 other countries. This is mostly in European countries but they are expanding into Canada in March.
There has been an attempt to cut roaming fees within Europe by European Commission politicians. This is in a move to unify the telecommunications market. This way mobile service crosses European borders without roaming fees. However, carriers make money on those roaming fees as they are generated through the partnerships of other carriers. The goal of the European Commission was to do away with roaming fees in December 2015. However, member states agreed instead to lower roaming fees until 2018 when negotiating with the European Parliament.
Hutchinson Whampoa allows its customers free roaming in the United States and other countries. Hutchinson Whampoa and a Google partnership makes good business sense. Then Google’s customers could freely roam on the networks Hutchinson Whampoa owns or partners with.
Although the goal is to offer customers free roaming wherever it can make a deal, the company is not planning to offer its services in the UK or other countries. Google would be giving customers free international roaming on networks owned by Hutchison, Hutchison, however already offers free roaming to their customers abroad, including in the U.S. so the company would not have a need for the network towers operated by Google. It is not clear if that would be part of the deal or even if a deal is beyond negotiations. Neither Google nor Three UK is commenting on the subject.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Gisela Giardino – Flickr License
Photo courtesy of Danny Sullivan – Flickr License