Google Launches Project Fi Network in US

google fiGoogle has announced plans to launch a virtual network in the US under the name Project Fi, with the aim of disrupting existing services and encouraging innovation in the mobile network market.

The search giant will rent voice and data capacity from two existing network operators, Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as using existing wi-fi hotspots to provide coverage rather than create its own infrastructure to support the project.

Googles entry into the network market has been rumoured for several years, and the companys interest in a virtual network were confirmed by Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products, earlier this year.

“Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of whats possible,” said Nick Fox, vice president of communications products at Google, in the blog post announcing the project. “By designing across hardware, software and connectivity, we can more fully explore new ways for people to connect and communicate.”

Initially, the network will only be available on Googles own Nexus 6 handsets, with coverage available in varying degrees throughout the US, and owners having to register with the program to take part, although coverage and availability may expand over time.

Google has explored similar territory before with its Google Fiber project, which offers ultra-fast broadband in the US, and has been credited with disrupting the market and encouraging providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable to improve speeds for their consumers.

However, Google Fiber involved the firm owning its own infrastructure, either through purchases from defunct companies or by laying its own fibre optic cable. By relying on a mobile virtual network, which is dependent on existing equipment built by rivals, it may find its ability to disrupt the market limited.