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Gphone Enroute? What About The Network?

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Lots of sites have been chattering about the potential for a Google branded handset emerging in the market, but the real news will be when the company lights up a wireless network to support it.

Gphone Enroute? What About The Network?
Gphone Enroute? What About The Network?

It could be that Google’s deal with Sprint to provide a portal for users of the forthcoming WiMAX network serves as a harbinger of an offering we’ve been expecting for some time.

There’s plenty of talk about the hardware side, the reputed Gphone. An article on CNet’s Crave blog cited a passel of sources, speculating on whose making the handsets (HTC in Taiwan), what operating system will be on-board (Linux, no shock there), and what applications will be in place (a web browser – gee, ya think?)

The Gphone could emerge tomorrow, descending from heaven in the greatest deus ex machina tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and borne by Adriana Lima and the whole Victoria’s Secret lineup of models. It could run for 60 days of nonstop browsing and talking and texting without needing a recharge, and it still wouldn’t matter.

People can buy a great phone today, or get a very good phone for free, plus the usual service agreements with a wireless carrier. That’s what’s missing from everyone’s fervent speculation: the network.

Back to Sprint and Google. We know Sprint plans to launch WiMAX in a big way. We’re pretty certain a Google-powered portal will be a convenient access point to mobile advertising. We understand Google owns a whole lot of dark fiber; networking capabilities just waiting to be enabled.

Let’s spin it this way, and please let us know what you think in the comment section. Google plugs its dark fiber into Sprint’s WiMAX network. They drop a bunch of Sun’s Project Blackbox datacenters onto strategically selected peering points.

Google pushes content and advertising into the network, which Sprint’s WiMAX service delivers over the “last mile” to people. Thanks to the advertising, Sprint can offer the service at a nominal charge. Google, or Sprint, can do the same for the handset.

In this scenario, Google doesn’t have to handle the icky part of dealing with end users, because Sprint already does that through customer support it has outsourced currently to Affiliated Computer Services. Google just keeps on matching search queries with ads, YouTube videos with ads, content partners with ads, etc.

Of course this all goes out the window if Google and potential partners end up with the 700MHz spectrum going up for auction next year. Our scenario fits all the pieces together. Whether it fits Google and Sprint won’t be known until that Gphone, or maybe Sprint’s WiMAX service, becomes available.

Gphone Enroute? What About The Network?
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