With Google fiber phone, it seems Google is trying to revive a dead technology: the landline. Yes, you heard right, while the world world is thinking which direction the wireless revolution would take us, Google, meanwhile has all this while being thinking of how to join the telephony business by using the forgotten landline route.
From the point of view of Google, the Google fiber phone project is a logical progression of Google’s ultra high speed gigabyte internet project. With all those fiber optic cables providing gigabit of internet to cities across the US, why not use the cables to also provide phone services to subscribers.
The Google fiber phone was first reported by the Washington Post after it obtained a letter to be part of a pioneer group of testers of the project. The letter was only send to a small select group. These fortunate testers had already subscribed to the gigabit Internet service that Google Fiber is offering. The letter of invite from from Google listed out some of features of the Google fiber phone to include,
– a phone number that lives in the cloud. This unique phone would connect all your phone numbers. That is, with just one phone number, you can receive calls to all your other phone numbers. So no more worrying about bad network from a particular service provider.
– revamped Google Voice features such as the ability to transcript voice-mail and auto call screening capability. The call screening is based on time of the day depending on user’s preference.
– spam filtering.
This new project from Google is seen as another way Google is trying to muscle in on the business of the traditional players. Google fiber already is in direct competition with cable TV providers. While the gigabit Internet service offers a faster alternative to what the traditional ISP’s are providing.
However, apart from the Google fiber’s gigabit Internet, the company, now known as Alphabet by the way, currently has a service known as Project Fi. Project Fi uses the infrastructure of the major telecoms company like Sprint and T-mobile to provide data and telephone services to Android smartphones. Android tablets and iPads get only data services. Nearby Wi-Fi networks are also utilized by Project Fi to provide data and phone services. So it is possible that the Google fiber phone project may just be part of a bigger plan to bring TV, phone and data services under one umbrella.
For now it is not clear how many cities the Google fiber phone project is being tested. But it is safe to assume the test can only take place in cities with active Google fiber services. Also it is unclear how much extra subscribers have to pay in addition to the cost of having the gigabit internet service and cable TV.
Those that got the invite for the Google fiber phone had one week to accept. Once a tester is signed up, a team of engineers from Google install a small device in the home of a tester. The subscriber is required to give frequent feedback to the Google fiber phone team.
“A Fiber team member will come to your home to install a piece of equipment. If you’re selected for this Trusted Tester group, we’ll be actively seeking your feedback – both good and bad – so that we can improve Fiber Phone once we launch it,” is how Google explained the process in the invitation.
Only time would tell if the Google fiber phone is a good thing in this age and time. I am for anything that increases the choices of consumers.
Photo credits: goandroid.co.in; ucinsight.com