Feature Article

May 05, 2015

Google's Project Fi: The Future of Mobility?

By Ed Fox

Last month, Google launched its next foray into communications: Project Fi. Consumers were buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a $20 a month wireless service with everyone’s favorite Silicon Valley giant that will actually pay users back for the minutes or data they don’t use.

Yet, telecommunications pros have been more hesitant to label the project an instant success and wireless industry analysts are quick to point out potentially cheaper bundles.  In a recent Mainstreet article, Robert McGarvey points out three major pain points Project Fi still needs to overcome. At the moment, the service can only be accessed in certain zip codes, on a particular phone model and is an invitation-only option.

However, when examining the current state of the communications industry, Google has positioned itself at the crossroads of several key industry trends which raises some intriguing questions. Does Project Fi have a play in the Unified Communications space? Will it evolve into a connected platform? Could it potentially lead the next phase of enterprise mobility? Although still in its infancy, Project Fi’s potential cannot be overlooked. Here are the trends I believe Google’s latest endeavor could impact:

  1. Unified Communications: As Google, Facebook and other emerging content providing software giants move toward subsidizing their customer access, Google will use this opportunity to improve its end user devices. This will make Google’s Unified Communications applications ubiquitously available across as many access methods as possible.
  2. 5G Network: Make no mistake, this is a real first attempt at 5G or 4.5G, where this time, the G stands for Google. The integration opportunities with existing Google products could be a powerful shift for consumer users. Imagine, you’re on a phone call when you get home and your device senses the strength of your Wi-Fi. You are prompted to swipe your current call onto your Chromecast and HD television. As connected technology and 5G network capabilities evolve, Google’s foothold in a plethora of communication technologies will become exponentially more important.
  3. Enterprise Mobility: For the enterprise, it will be interesting to see if Google can introduce any mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) capabilities to bring this service into the workplace. Since the personal PC, we have seen consumer computing capability and communications model what enterprise adopts. If Project Fi were to evolve and run alongside Google’s existing workplace applications, this could potentially revolutionize the way employees communicate and share information. Through Google powered devices and applications, end-users could rely on Managed Network & Services Providers to ensure they are reliably available.
  4. Cloud technology: This move will help Google figure out how deep it needs to invest in the macro wireless space, or if it can simply rule access to its customers by providing free Wi-Fi across the globe. There is no doubt that the technologies Google has created with its cloud applications is something no large infrastructure carrier could pull off today or in the near future.

One has to wonder, is this just another Google project born out of the brilliant and restless creative minds of the Mountain View campus? Or, is this a very Machiavellian-like strategic play to drive the unrealized potentials of 4G LTE and help create the evolving 5G environment with their next conquests? Only time will tell.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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