People don’t need a Google wireless service, but robot cars do

Google’s rumoured moves toward building its own wireless data network make sense for a driverless future

Google self-driving car


The rumour mill has been agog over the past few weeks with the possibility of Google getting into the wireless business in the United States.

Reports surfaced again in late January about Google working on something called Project Nova, which would be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service that would piggyback on the networks of Sprint or T-Mobile.

The search company is apparently looking to get into the business to drive down prices. Google is also rumoured to be working on innovative phones that could smoothly jump between carriers’ networks and wi-fi hotspots.

Lower mobile data costs would be good for Google, because it would mean smartphone owners could use their devices more – and therefore the company’s various services more.

Of course, these rumours are nothing new. Google has reportedly been considering launching an MVNO since at least last year.

And let’s not forget the company very nearly went much further back in 2008 when it committed billions to a spectrum auction.

Whatever happens, the company’s future seems inextricably linked with wireless communications if it truly hopes to be a force in robot cars.

While self-driving vehicles will be revolutionary on their own, their greater benefits will only be felt if and when they can become part of the internet of things.

They’re going to need to connect to each other and to traffic grids for that to happen.

A growing number of current cars are already coming equipped with LTE connections, but does Google really want to entrust such an important function of its autonomous vehicles to third-party wireless carriers?

It’s likelier that the company will want more fine-grained control over the connectivity of its cars. Getting into wireless one way or another—perhaps an acquisition or two?—is probably the best way to do that.