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Google in talks on phone network in US: executive

[BARCELONA] US Internet giant Google says it is in talks with telecom companies about operating its own mobile phone services in the United States.

"We are actually working with carrier partners. You will see us announce it in the coming months," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice-president for products, said on Monday.

"We don't intend to be a network operator at scale," however, he added, speaking at the Mobile World Congress, a major telecom trade fair in Barcelona.

The California-based company would become a kind of virtual mobile operator by buying access to existing firms' networks and selling it on to clients.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Google had made agreements with leading telecom companies in the United States such as Sprint and T-Mobile to access their networks.

Pichai declined to give further details, however.

Google currently does not have its own mobile phone services, but its Android operating system can be used on more than 80 per cent of the world's smartphones. It also holds a large market share in wireless tablet devices.

If it moved into providing mobile phone coverage, Google would enter a market dominated by four big players: Sprint, T-Mobile - which is part of the Deutsche Telekom group - Verizon and AT&T.

The sector has been suffering a fall in revenues. Sprint recently cut 2,000 jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal between Google and Sprint included a clause that could allow the deal to be abandoned if Google gained too many customers.

The announcement referred to by Pichai could come during Google's annual conference in May.


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