While it isn’t quite the AT&T-T-Mobile blockbuster, the move has broad implications on the mobile communications industry.
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So, in effect, Sprint is happily handing a large chunk of its backend voice and texting services over to Google.
The move is great for both companies. Here’s why:
Sprint doesn’t bill or earn much money on voicemail or call forwarding features. Offloading those to Google will provide operational cost savings and, at the same time, offer its customers a best of breed differentiator in phone services. Google will get to connect long distance calls, which it can do for much less than the major mobile carriers because of its all-IP global infrastructure.
The service is optional but it offers so much above and beyond normal voice services that it seems hard to imagine that most people won’t jump in. It is available to all Sprint users, even those with feature phones, free of charge.
The service, at least initially, is only available to Sprint’s post-paid customers and isn’t available to business customers or customers on Sprint’s MVNOs like Virgin or Boost.
The service will roll out gradually over the next few weeks. It just might be enough momentum to get people in the telecoms space to talk about something besides AT&T T and T-Mobile.
Sprint also announced it would be carrying a 4G version of the Google Nexus S Android phone, which has Google Voice additions built-in.