How Google’s Project Nova could upend the wireless industry by Jason Cipriani @FortuneMagazine March 4, 2015, 5:12 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Have you heard about Google’s Project Loon? The initiative, which aspires to bring connectivity to the 4 billion people without it, is doing better than expected, according to Google’s Sundar Pichai. The executive, speaking with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, explained that the balloons used in the project—which Google floats up to 60,000 ft. into the sky to give people underneath LTE wireless Internet connectivity—now stay afloat some 200 days, twice as long as when the project first got off the ground. (Pun very much intended.) Pichai also discussed Titan Aerospace, the company Google GOOG acquired in April 2014. Its solar-powered drones, which are able to hover in place, could also be used to blanket the world with connectivity, he said. The first test flights are scheduled for this year. All of this talk about Internet infrastructure-building set the stage for a startling Google reveal: that it would become a wireless carrier. Pichai severely downplayed the pre-announcement, if you will, likening it to the company’s approach to its Nexus lineup of Google Android mobile devices, which coexist with partner devices made by Samsung and LG. In telecom, Google’s small-scale offering will function alongside partners, rumored to be T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. Google calls the effort Project Nova, and it’s really intended to demonstrate experimental features and their feasibility for the larger wireless carriers to implement, Pichai said. The changes would provide for a better end-user experience, he added, and ultimately a better experience for Android users across the board. As an example, Pichai cited the frustration of a dropped wireless call and how it automatically reconnects once the network identifies the error. Pichai stopped short of saying that its budding network would rely heavily on Wi-Fi working in tandem with a cellular connection, but it’s easy to be left with the impression of just that. It only makes sense for a wireless service provider to leverage a resource most of us have access to at home and in the office where we spend most of our time. Google’s offering will aim to improve the handoff between Wi-Fi and cellular network when leaving one coverage area and entering another. It’s an issue I experience every day as I pull out of my driveway—my phone simply refuses to stream music or send a message as it disconnects from my home’s Wi-Fi and establishes a connection with AT&T’s cellular network. So I started thinking: What features would I love to see Google champion? 1.) Lower prices. A pricing battle among wireless carriers is already in full swing in the United States thanks in part to T-Mobile and its Un-Carrier movement. But there’s still room for Google to have an impact. Google could make a concerted effort to drive the pricing model even lower by urging users to view a Wi-Fi network as the main connectivity point with a wireless carrier, instead of relying on expensive towers. The idea is far from new. Republic Wireless has offered plans starting at $5 per month for unlimited calling, texting, and data on a Wi-Fi connection. Other plans from Republic mix Wi-Fi service with a cellular connection, capping out at $40 a month. Yet with Google’s name attached to a similar program, it’s bound to gain traction and—more importantly—the attention of carriers. Give me truly unlimited wireless service for $30 a month, and I’ll ask for a pen to sign the paperwork. 2.) Carrier-agnostic service. I think we can all relate to the frustrating experience while traveling where we find ourselves in an area where our carrier of choice doesn’t have service, while the person sitting next to us has full signal on a competing carrier. Yet it doesn’t make sense to switch carriers, a cumbersome process plagued by early-termination fees and payoffs, based solely on an experience while traveling. So we suffer through the spotty coverage for the greater good. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google’s wireless offering will eliminate this pain point for customers by automatically switching between wireless carriers based on signal strength. 3.) Phone numbers, R.I.P. Google, you’re known for your moonshot projects coming out of the secretive Google X lab. I have a request I’d like to respectfully ask you put on the whiteboard within the lab. I want to get rid of my phone number, and I want Google to spearhead the movement. In fact, I want everyone to ditch his or her phone number. We live in a time where our phone numbers are a secondary piece of information used for communication. Instead of having to keep track of a person’s email address and phone number for home, office, and mobile, why can’t we share one piece of information? Looking through my address book, I see some contacts have four or five different phone numbers. Where do I even begin if I want to pick up a phone and talk to them? One person, one route: Let’s have a single point of contact for each person and no longer concern ourselves with what number to use, when. Google is well-positioned to become the first wireless carrier that relies solely on an e-mail address (or the like) to route phone calls, text messages, and every other bit of information we transmit and receive. I’m well aware of the cards stacked against a system that eliminates the archaic ten-digit exchange we were taught to memorize as a toddler. But that’s exactly why it’s a problem for the brain trust in Mountain View needs to solve. Jason Cipriani is the author of “Logged In,” Fortune’s personal technology column. 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