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Leaked App Reveals New Details About Google's Wireless MVNO

Thanks to a leaked app we now know a bit more about the mobile service that Google has confirmed it will launch this year. Cody Toombs at Android Police has written a detailed analysis of an app that was found in a leaked internal build of Android for the Nexus 6.

The app Tycho.apk, lets users manage their Project Fi wireless account. Project Fi is likely a placeholder name for Google's MVNO, which Toombs speculates will be called Google Wireless. Android Police is labeling the find as a rumor and cautions that although the app looks genuine, Google is very likely to make changes to its wireless service before launch.

Toombs extracted a number of text strings from the app that look like parts of the menus, prompts and alerts. These strings suggest that:

  • Google's wireless service will be prepaid. 
  • Users will pay an unspecified flat fee in advance for unlimited US voice calls and text.
  • International calls will be charged per minute, like they are with Google Voice
  • Customers will purchase data in advance in 1 GB increments and will receive a refund for unused data at the end of the month.
  • Overage data will be billed at the same price per GB as data purchased in advance.
  • Accounts with multiple lines sharing the same pool of data will be supported.
  • Data only plans may be available. 
  • Interest free financing of Nexus 6 phones may be available
  • Customers will be able to activate the Google wireless service from within the app but only if their Google account has been authorized. I suspect that means the service will be invite only initially.
  • The service will automatically switch between using T-Mobile or Sprint depending on which service has the best signal. Customers will be able to disable auto switching and switch carriers manually.
This is just a quick summary, the Android Police article is very detailed. I recommend reading it if you are at all interested in Google's forthcoming wireless service.

According to Google Product chief Sundar Pichai, Google's wireless service will launch at small scale and is intended to spur innovation rather than to compete directly with the wireless operators. The service will probably only work with the Nexus 6 at launch. It's expected to route voice, data and messaging over the best available connection whether its WiFi, T-Mobile or Sprint. Google is is expected to launch the service At Google I/O which will be held May 28 and 29. Like many of products Google launched at I/O in the past like Google Music and Google Glass, I suspect that Google Wireless will only available to Googe I/O attendees initially and then be offered on an invite only basis with prospective users able to request an invite online.

Image: Android Police

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30 comments:

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  1. Seems good for a beta test. but not a viable choice right now when it switches from one distant "back of the pack" coverage network to another that's not any better.

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    1. You are absolutely right, it would have been much more appetizing if Google would have use Verizon/AT&T combo, but I suspect it would have been a lot more expensive.

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    2. Actually Sprint's network works very well in many states. This is after they've done the network update. I travel a lot with my job and I have an att phone from work and my personal phone from Sprint and there is bbeen a lot of places where my att phone doesn't have signal but my sprint does. It all comes down to your location.

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    3. Agreed! I have a work AT&T LTE phone and a personal Sprint LTE (single-band) phone and Sprint gets almost full LTE coverage in buildings like Target, the mall, etc, where AT&T is down to 1 bar... Sprint improving network very quickly, at least in Northern California.

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    4. It's if you travel a lot, or go outside a tiny area, that the decision to go with an uncarrier (T-Mobile or Sprint) instead of a carrier ends up looking pretty bad.

      Sprint's network might work well in many states, but AT&T or Verizon work "well" in several more states that have poor Sprint coverage, or work much better than just "well" in most places covered merely "well" by Sprint.

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    5. "You are absolutely right, it would have been much more appetizing if Google would have use Verizon/AT&T combo, but I suspect it would have been a lot more expensive."

      I'd embrace a two-tired system, and I am sure many would. With a Google option on Verizon / AT&T, I'd actually consider it, weighing the price and all. But with it being on Sprint / T-Mobile, where the coverage is atrocious for both, I'd not consider it at all. Can't do much with 0 bars at any price.

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    6. Don't waste your money listening to people who encourage you to pay every month for coverage you will probably never need or use.
      http://assets.fiercemarkets.net/public/mdano/amis/sprinttmo-ov-big.jpg
      This map is at least 6 months old, so current coverage is even better.

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    7. I used Sprint until a few months ago. The coverage was terrible. I switched to AT&T: it's a night and day difference: significantly better coverage, and I need and use it. The coverage on Verizon is similar.

      Before this, I thought that it was normal to only have any bars at all in isolated spots, and to have even low-bitrate streaming audio cut out constantly when sitting still. The normal on Sprint. Now I know that there's a lot better to be had, and for the same price, too.

      As for the assets map linked to above? Rather threadbare. And there's no evidence that it has improved in the last 6 months (reports of actual new towers are not to be found). Don't waste your money on a mobile phone that won't let you be mobile. When you can go to a much better network without spending more.

      To use a steak analogy with that map, a Verizon or AT&T map is like a big porterhouse steak. Tmo and Sprint are just the veins of gristle, while VRZ/ATT are the meat.

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    8. No offense intended, but your "tiny..terrible..threadbare" coverage is irrelevant to more than 110M US customers who picked Sprint and T-Mobile network plans as their best value. It's also irrelevant to virtually all other US residents, who don't live, work and travel to the same places as you. Why should anyone care about Sprint or Tmobile coverage in those unknown location(s)? I don't think long-distance truckers or folks who roaming the country in their motorhomes need help reading coverage maps ;-)

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    9. hmm. with all this talk about sprint coverage, having second thoughts about sprint. because a new sprint store opened up in our area near me. maybe things are better now in terms of reception in my area....

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    10. Based on where I live, and if this map of Sprint/T-mobile coverage represented the only cell phone coverage in the U.S., then I wouldn’t even bother to own a cell phone!

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    11. "Why should anyone care about Sprint or Tmobile coverage in those unknown location(s)? "

      These "unknown locations" are the vast majority of the United States territory. And it is located very close to any T-Mobile or Sprint user once they step off the narrow threads of coverage. And into the vast American expanse, which is well covered by the big two, and not by the others.

      Catt: You are right. Sprint coverage is terrible. I know from experience.

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    12. to the "having second thoughts about sprint. ....maybe things are better now in terms of reception" person...

      Well, why not try a Sprint-based phone, with a place that lets you bring it back in a couple of weeks if you don't like it for any reason. Get a one month Sprint or Virgin card: you will be out that amount, for sure. but that is just one month. And after you get the phone, before the date of no return, take a long Sunday drive. Hopefully to cover a few counties. Check out the phone and data reception. See if it will work out...

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    13. "more than 110M US customers who picked Sprint and T-Mobile network plans as their best value."

      I might have been one of those a few years ago, picking Sprint as my best value, even though I could not use my phone in most places I went to. I gave in to Sprint advertising, and stuck with them, an uncritical consumer. Probably like most of those who are indicate they are happy with bad coverage. They just don't know better. Now I do.

      You can't assume that having significantly better coverage is "irrelevant" to 110M US customers with Sprint and T-Mobile services. I wonder how many of those 110M locked in, either by contract or personal inertia, would stick around if they had a chance to find out how much better it was with a wide-coverage carrier.

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    14. The map linked above shows native networks coverage only. Both Sprint, Sprint Prepaid, T-Mobile and some of their MVNOs include free, extensive voice and sms roaming on Vzw or AT&T and regional carriers. Data roaming is also available on some plans. Wider coverage is only worth paying extra for every month if you need it. Your bad coverage experience is still irrelevant to everyone else.

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    15. Native coverage is the most important. That is where you will get complete coverage on all, without roaming concerns. Or get 3G or better data. Off this map, and you have a snails pace 2G, if you have data at all.

      As for "my" bad coverage experience, it is relevant to anyone in the country. Anyone with, say, T-Mobile will run into it if they take their phone away from the thin lines of coverage. Because the uncarriers have bad coverage in most of the US.

      "Wider coverage is only worth paying extra for every month if you need it."

      True. but there are prepaid options on the big real carriers where you pay the same, or even a little less. to get true national coverage., compared to bad terrible coverage with TMO or Sprint.

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    16. "Anyone with, say, T-Mobile will run into it if they take their phone away from the thin lines of coverage. Because the uncarriers have bad coverage in most of the US."
      This is not true. T-Mobile customers have extensive roaming, so every T-Mobile customer can call and text in the extensive roaming areas, and most of them can use the web as well. T-Mobile and Sprint network users have many plan options that Verizon and AT&T MVNOs do not match or beat. It is nonsense to suggest that people should reject these options because of your "bad" coverage.

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    17. "T-Mobile customers have extensive roaming"

      It's not that simple. The roaming is only consistently for the text and voice. For data, the picture is pretty bad. The roaming, if you have it, for most of the country is dog-slow 2g. Some T-Mobile MVNO's/etc don't even offer data roaming at all.

      " It is nonsense to suggest that people should reject these options because of your "bad" coverage."

      Far from it. The coverage for both T-Mobile and Sprint is bad for most of the nation, not just me. Which makes both of these a poor choice in most of the country.

      And there are no quotes needed around "bad". If you have zero bars, there's no way around it. That's bad.

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    18. yeah, it would be good to point out that for most of the country, you get 3G or 4G on AT&T and Verizon and their related subsidiaries and MVNOs.

      In contrast, for most of the country, T-Mobile offers significantly slower 2G. Sprint subsidiaries such as Boost and Virgin don't even offer slow data: they have no data, voice, or text outside of a small area.

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  2. Not enthusiastic about the way they are handling data.

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    1. If you mean pricing, I'll be happy with it as long as they refund unused partial GBs or the data is cheap ($5/GB or less).

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    2. Yes, I did mean pricing.

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    3. Even 5.00 a gig is too much. I'm hoping increased competition continues to drive prices downward.

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    4. Matt: It's too much considering how the carrier oligarchy in the US grossly overcharges for data (just compare to Europe and other regions). But within the domain of the oligarchy, it's not bad, pretty much inline, for $25 for 2.5GB of data.

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  3. HOFO Id: Grateful4AdviceApril 14, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    I welcome the competition. Even if you don't use the service it will help keep competitors in check. I agree Sprint and T-Mobile coverage is lacking but we should all be grateful for them. ATT and Verizon customers benefit from lower prices thanks to the competition.

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    1. Absolutely. If it wasn't for T-mobile and Sprint I would probably still be paying over $200 with ATT for one line.

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  4. Let's hope for a game changer.

    Something a long the line of a 1Gg email account versus the competitions 2 Mb. Remember that?

    Or 1 Gg fiber instead of the competitions 1.5 Mb down or even 10 Mb down.

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  5. I hope this is coming from the "good Google" that brings us Youtube and wonderful Google Maps and Navigator...

    and not the "bad Google" of Gmail with its "conversation view" scrambling my inbox into uselessness and losing emails, or the Google Plus debacle.

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  6. Google MVNO to credit customers for unused data according to a report. Republic Wireless just this week announced the same thing.

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  7. Google Project Fi is a go. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/project-fi.html http://motorola-blog.blogspot.com/2015/04/project-fi-and-nexus-6-more-choice http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=15682-in.html

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