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Massive leak: Google may become the next ‘uncarrier’ to watch

Published Apr 14th, 2015 7:45AM EDT
Google Wireless Nova Project Fi
Image: BGR

Google’s plans of becoming a mobile operator are officially confirmed, but the company is yet to make it MVNO network available to customers. Even so, a new Android application has been discovered inside a mid-February Lollipop build for the Nexus 6, with Android Police unearthing some exciting details about Google’s upcoming carrier initiative. From the looks of it, Google has some interesting ideas to convince you to dump your regular operator in favor of its yet-to-be-named service, which might turn the Search giant into a brand new, but much smaller, “uncarrier.”

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According to data discovered inside a new Android app that’s yet to be available to users, Google’s MVNO service is referred to internally as Project Fi, while the app is called Tycho. References to Nova, also a codename for Google’s MVNO project, are also found inside Tycho, though the publication speculates the service will have a straightforward Google Wireless product name.

The Tycho app is basically a carrier app that lets users turn on and off the service, view details about their accounts, add lines, switch devices, share data with other devices, print statements and more.

In it, the publication found code lines that confirm Google is indeed buying cellular data from T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. with other operators not being named. Google’s wireless service will actively switch from Sprint to T-Mobile and back in order to offer customers the best possible coverage in their area.

Furthermore, Google apparently plans to use Project Fi to increase Nexus 6 sales, offering potential buyers an interest-free device financing option that would let them pay for the more expensive handset over time. Other handsets aren’t mentioned in this version of the code.

When it comes to actual service rates, Google appears ready to come up with some competitive offers that might certainly appear to a certain set of smartphone users. Google may charge customers only for what they use, and even credit them back for unused data at the end of the month.

In case they exceed data plans, users will be charged the same flat fee for each additional gigabyte, and Android Police says there aren’t any “artificially hiked up overage fees” present in the code.

Plans also start with a flat rate to enable talk and text, with calls in the U.S. available free of charge, while international calls being charged at a low rate.

From the app, users can add and manage multiple lines and share data among them, which is an unusual offer from a MVNO carrier. Interestingly, a data-only service option will also be available to a user, who could split his or her allotted data among various devices, including smartphones and tablets, without counting these activations as additional lines.

Android fans who own multiple smartphones, or who keep jumping on to the next big thing, will be happy to hear that switching devices is also possible from inside the app. In fact, all devices can remain on the same Project Fi plan, with users able to select the primary one, which will receive calls and texts.

Finally, there’s also some Google “evilness” involved in it becoming a wireless carrier, and that’s tracking your calls for advertising purposes. But the great thing about it is that Google plans to let you opt out of it from the start. That means you can either let Google see your call log, and offer relevant ads based on the business-related phone numbers it contains, or not.

It’s not clear at this time when Project Fi will be available to users – or what it’ll be called once it’s launched – and the details discovered in this app file are yet to be officially confirmed. But Google may make its MVNO initiative one of the main announcements at Google I/O this May, at which point it’ll likely reveal everything there is to know about it.

The full Android Police teardown of Tycho is available at the source link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.