Sunday, September 25, 2016

Google's data only sim and march to become a dominant global carrier

A couple of years ago I have researched into using Google Voice for a free landline. It worked but finally I gave up due to voice quality. It wasn't about narrowband voice vs wideband. It's like the phone app is trying to be an IP phone (VOIP landline) when it's actually a mobile phone. And the echo is terrible when calling copper networks. In addition, the need for everybody in the house to operate a bluetooth handset (that looks like a plain old telephone handset) killed it.

I invested in IP phones (SIP, VOIP protocal) both wired and wireless. The cost is low and dropping. Now Callcentric drops to $3.9 per month includes much more minutes than I use and 911.

Google killed GV open protocol and hence the free landline business. But actually not. They work with the device manufacturers to keep it going. But there's no point for new users. About the same time, Google launched Hangout Dialer.

So HO became a totally free VOIP solution. It goes over Wifi and your ISP that you already paid for. It also comes out of your 4G data if Wifi is not available. Strictly speaking, it's unlimited domestic and then some, like Canada, and cost very little internationally.

And you don't worry about voice quality. It's a phone app and Google is responsible to make it compatible with all types of networks. And with the voice over LTE standard, all the phones and all the carriers are capable of HD voice quality.

You can then have a spare smart phone and replace your landline for free, if you still need a home phone or talking into a phone for that matter.

While people were worrying if GV starts charging, Google killed the IP phone and landline business in one stroke. New entry level smart phones are cheap and should support wifi calling, voLTE and hence HD voice. Business used to go for high volume VOIP provider but now GV has unlimited domestic. There's little point to use the SIP protocol and IP phones.

I wonder why there's still no Hangout phones like skype phones to replace landlines? Maybe it's a gentlemen's agreement like not to port landland to GV. Google doesn't want it and doesn't need it. The smartphones now are much better. And everybody uses smartphones and apps. And if you need to talk a lot, invest in a business grade bluetooth headset.

At the end, Google don't even need phone numbers. Just use your Google ID can call anybody else in the world for free using Hangout or their other apps.

Not long after Hangout dialer, replacing landlines and giving you multiple lines on your 4G phone, Google became a proper global carrier with Project Fi. It's not the cheapest but they made 4G affordable for everybody. If you don't use any data you don't pay for it. Most people will save unless for the heavy data users consistantly every month.

Soon after Project Fi becomes available for everybody, Google launched another checkmate like move with data only sim, launched without much fanfare.

Most people wouldn't look at it, unless you need tablets on the go and tethering from the phone is not convenient. But you can use it on any smartphone, unlocked or locked to T-mo, or possibly the other Project Fi carriers. Personally I tried it on an entry level T-mo phone and everything works for Hangout; the voice is good too.

Now you have a family, even tribe, plan for free, using HO. You don't pay anything if you don't use it, or if you use it only on wifi. If you use it on data, it's only 1 c per minute calling, an unverified rough estimate. TXT uses much less data. There's no privacy issue. Everybody has their own phone and their own google account and their own google voice number.

Now if you add a data sim to your "home landline", you can even take it with you anywhere. And if your wifi or ISP or both go down, you still have your 4G network as backup. Now your ISP network and the 4G network is requried to be highly reliable. You got the reliabiltiy of both network. And Fi may even use multiple 4G networks. And not just 4G, Fi use 3G/2G data too, but ususally the towers are the same unless they are very old.

I would say Google isn't aiming at competing with ISP or wireless carrier directly. As I have said above, at the end everything is ethernet, and you are only your google email address, or something that appear to be more neutral (but dominated by Google). To compete in that space, they already have a head start, Allo. Other Google produces already use a lot of AI on the cloud. Voice input use a lot of it to recognize phrase and lookup your phonebook. Keep does character recognition without telling you.

Anything else is to ensure Google getting there. Google fibre is one. They have the money and muscle to build a global fibre network. It doesn't matter who builds it. They are not after that money. They just want it build and they will make good use of it for profit. They don't need it if there is net neutrality. If not, they have their own network, though tiny at the moment, but nobody got anything big.

The same for wireless. If other carriers don't let Google use 4G their way, Google may build their own 4G network. They don't care about anything but 4G or up.