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Report: Google phone to be announced Monday

By Michal Lev-Ram

Google is expected to unveil its mobile phone plans on Monday. That would end two years of speculation that the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant has been working on a cell phone or, as has been more recently suggested, a mobile operating system for multiple manufacturers and devices.

A source close to T-Mobile and Sprint confirmed to Fortune that the companies are likely to be the first U.S. mobile operators to carry Google-powered cell phones, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Taiwanese phonemaker HTC has been named as a potential Google partner, which sources close to the company have also confirmed.

The question, though, is whether Google can change the wireless carriers’ long-entrenched ways, in which they insist to a large degree on controlling what phones and software their customers use. Google has publicly stated that consumers should be able to download any software they wish, and use any mobile device with whatever wireless network they prefer. The company has lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to adopt such an approach in an upcoming auction of wireless spectrum. Google has also said it plans to bid in that auction, though it’s not clear what its long-term plans would be if it won.

Even if Google doesn’t become a wireless operator, getting the established carriers to carry phones compatible with the company’s software and services will be a potential boon.

“Any device Google brings would be a big positive for the entire wireless industry,” says Robert Laikin, CEO of wireless distribution company Brightpoint. “Consumer awareness would increase as it relates to what converged devices can really do.”