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Google's Pichai unveils plans for US mobile-phone services

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 23:03
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Google Inc, building on the success of its Android operating system, unveiled plans at the Mobile World Congress on how the Internet giant aims to take on US wireless carriers and spread Web access to more users around the world.

[NEW YORK] Google Inc, building on the success of its Android operating system, unveiled plans at the Mobile World Congress on how the Internet giant aims to take on US wireless carriers and spread Web access to more users around the world.

Google is working with US mobile carriers to "push the boundaries" of data services in the US, Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai said Monday during a session hosted by Bloomberg's Brad Stone. The initiative will be on a small scale, Mr Pichai said, comparing it to Google's fiber broadband project.

Selling wireless service could enable Google to gain more mobile-device users to help sell mobile ads. Sprint Corp is one of the carriers that have network sharing agreements with companies that sell service under their own brand name.

In the next few months, under its project Titan, Google will start flying solar-powered planes to serve as wireless towers in areas without mobile Internet coverage.

"It's the kind of approach we've always done at Google, enabling platforms to make a big difference in people's lives," Mr Pichai said in Barcelona, where the largest telecommunications trade show is held annually.

Google is investing more in mobile software and services as consumers increasingly access the Internet and digital features through wireless devices. The Mountain View, California-based company's Android operating system dominates the smartphone industry with more than 75 per cent market share, according to researcher IDC.

Project Titan follows Project Loon, a high-altitude balloon system that carry wireless antennas, and Project Link, which is focused on bringing Internet connections to some of the 4 billion people who don't have access, Pichai said.

The comments come after Chief Executive Officer Larry Page last year gave Pichai most of the product leadership at the company. Mr Pichai, who formerly had worked on Chrome and Android, now oversees Amit Singhal, who heads up search; and Sridhar Ramaswamy, who leads ads and commerce.

While Google remains the largest online advertising company, it's coming under more pressure to accelerate growth as it grapples with more competition from rivals such as Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Apple Inc. During the fourth quarter, revenue was US$14.5 billion excluding sales passed onto partners, missing analysts' average projection.

Mr Pichai's push on global connectivity will involve carriers including Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica SA, he said. The company has made bets on helping spread Internet access to less developed areas of the world.

BLOOMBERG