Google wants free international roaming for its network users

By Kul Bhushan | Updated 6 Apr 2015
Google wants free international roaming for its network users
  • Free roaming could be one of the main USPs of Google's much talked about MVNO network in the US.

Google had recently confirmed plans to start its own MVNO network in the US. Google had said  the move will help test out new technologies with its devices and ecosystem. Now, Google  is in talks with cellular operators to make international roaming free – being speculated to be one of the key features of Google's own network.

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According to new media reports, Google is in talks with several mobile networks in the UK to enable US customers to make calls at domestic rates while on roaming. Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, which owns networks in several countries, is named in the report.

Hutchison Whampoa runs the UK's Three network and is trying to acquire the UK's O2 network from Telefonica.  The company also operates networks in Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Ireland. It is believed Hutchison Whampoa would be one of Google's major global partners.

The development comes amid ongoing efforts of European Commission politicians to slash roaming fees with Europe in order to create a unified telcom market. The Commission was striving to end roaming fees by end of this year, but member states have agreed to lower the fees until late 2018. Operators are reluctant to go ahead with such plans as roaming fees are their one of the major revenue sources.

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That said Google's free international roaming service, if implemented, could have a huge impact on the West telecom market, trigger price wars and subsequently make the market more competitive.

Google hasn't said anything about expanding its network in markets such as India. That said, the Indian telecom market is already highly competitive. It'll be interesting to see how the Indian telcos respond to Google's arrival ( if it happens).

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Do you think Indian operators should also make international roaming free? What's your opinion on the roaming issue? Let us know your views in the comments section below:

Kul Bhushan
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