The Google phone will operate over VoIP -- most likely Google's Voice/Gizmo5 service. The data will be provided by Wifi by users at home and work and by GSM carriers when roaming. AT&T and Tmobile are thrown around by TechCrunch as possible sources of this data. They are looking at $20/month price point which would blow everything else out of the water.
I absolutely love this idea. If Google can get any of the carriers to agree to it, I'd snap it up in a minute. Heck, if it is done right, I wouldn't even need carrier support. I'd use the phone at home and at work and carry around a Mifi when I needed it elsewhere.
As for Wireless VoIP phones, their time has come. When I spent some time in Europe, I bought a Belkin Skype phone which worked well for the purpose. This was four years ago. In that time, you'd think someone would have figured out how to get a EDGE card into one of those things (VoIP needs very little bandwidth - even a dial-up modem works).
If this Google rumor is true, I'll be on line on day one to pickup one of these things. I've got my Google phone number am ready and ready to drop my current service.
The hard part of this sell will be getting the mobile carriers to agree to it. They'd be stupid to do so. Would you dump your current carrier to pay $20/month for your phone, all in? Of course you would.
You can get a Mifi card with pretty generous GBs of data from Verizon and Sprint for about $80/month. AT&T and Tmobile have similar offers. If Google made the device low-speed/EDGE only (which also uses less power than 3G), perhaps a desperate carrier would be willing to sponsor such a device for a $20 price point.
Another issue is e911. I'm not sure these Google mobile VoIP phones would have that and that would scare off more than a few potential customers. Perhaps Google is working behind the scenes to conjure something up in this regard. It wouldn't be that difficult. Most smartphone chipsets now include GPS. It wouldn't be hard to send a 911 call with GPS coordinates over VoIP. In fact, it might be better than the current system for cell phones which use Cell towers to triangulate the location of the caller.
In any case, it will be interesting to see if Google, or anyone for that matter, can bring a good VoIP smartphone to market.
This story, "Google Phone Is Coming, May Be VoIP Device" was originally published by Computerworld.