Free Calls Courtesy of Google?

Well, possibly not, but there have certainly been some very interesting developments taking place at Google, so read on and see what you think…

On 10 Feb 2010 Google announced they’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a number of trial locations across the United States. They claim that they will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today. They plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

This development in isolation is pretty interesting as it shows they are at the very least willing to take on the Telecoms, but how does it tie in with the free calls? Well, if we add this to some of the other recent developments and do a bit of conjuring and speculating, the future may not be so bright for the big telecom companies. Here are just a few notable developments.

1.    Back in 2006, Google introduced free city-wide Wi-Fi in Mountain View and most recently they provided (who are we kidding, ‘tested’) the service at a number of airports over the festive period.

2.    They launched their own Nexus One phone, which can be purchased without being tied to a carrier.

3.    They are advocating new technology such as ‘white space’  (frequencies found between television channels) for a new generation of wireless devices.

4.    During the Super Bowl telecast on CBS, Google really upped their charm offensive with the ‘Parisian Love’ TV ad illustrating how trusting Google can help improve all aspects of your life including finding a college, a date, relationship advice, a job, a church for your wedding (to the aforementioned date), and a bed for your new baby (also to the aforementioned date). This probably went out to 1/3 of the US population.

If we mix all these pieces, and maybe it’s just me putting one and one and together and coming up with World Domination, but Google could be mistaken for strategically putting a series of steps in place to eventually provide free, (or at least heavily subsidized) cell phone calls and broadband access via Wi-Fi, by perhaps utilizing ‘white space’ frequencies from a number of strategically placed hub locations.

So far this is perhaps plausible, but where is the all important motive?
Well, quite simply, the motive is money.

But how would they make their money if it’s going to be free, you may ask?
Well, the Nexus One phone isn’t free ($529 unlocked), but to monetize the WiFi offering , Google will probably continue to do what they do VERY WELL in search, and that is to provide a free service, but charge the advertisers.
But, can they advertise on a phone call?

Perhaps, kind of. We’ve already seen that Google Voice can provide transcripts of conversations and one of the features of the Nexus One is the ability to transcribe voice to text. Therefore, like they currently do with Gmail, Google could potentially ‘monitor’ a telephone conversation and then serve you an array of ads directly to your phone (or the next time you log on to Google), based not on your search activity but based on your recent and most intimate conversations and texts.

Note – This is all theoretical and is based on very limited information, but if Google happens to be reading this (perhaps via Google Alerts) and they haven’t actually thought about this and think I may be on to a winner, well, donations are more than welcome!

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