Google to Offer Wireless Service in the U.S.

Will Also Launch Solar-Powered Planes

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Google unveiled plans to offer U.S. mobile-phone service and said it will launch solar-powered planes to provide wireless Internet service in the world's unconnected areas in the next few months.

"We're working hard to create a backbone to provide connectivity," Senior VP Sundar Pichai said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Building on the success of its Android operating system, selling its own wireless service could enable Google to add mobile-device subscribers and make it easier to serve those users ads via smartphones and tablets.

Google also is working with mobile carriers to "push the boundaries" of data services in the U.S., Mr. Pichai said Monday at a session hosted by Bloomberg's Brad Stone.

The initiative will be on a small scale, Mr. Pichai said, comparing it to Google's fiber broadband project. Sprint Corp. is among the carriers that have network-sharing agreements with companies that sell service under their own brand name.

The solar-plane project, called Project Titan, follows Project Loon, a system of high-altitude balloons that carry wireless antennas; and Project Link, another initiative to help bring Internet connections to some of the 4 billion people globally who don't have access, Mr. Pichai said.

"It's the kind of approach we've always done at Google, enabling platforms to make a big difference in people's lives," Mr. Pichai said. The annual Mobile World Congress is the largest telecommunications trade show.

Google's push for global connectivity will involve carriers including Vodafone Group and Telefonica, he said.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is investing more in mobile software and services as consumers increasingly access the Internet and digital features through wireless devices. Android dominates the smartphone industry, with more than 75% of the market, according to researcher IDC.

Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page last year gave Mr. Pichai most of the product leadership at the company. Mr. Pichai now oversees Amit Singhal, who runs the search operation, and Sridhar Ramaswamy, who leads ads and commerce.

While Google remains the largest online advertising company, it is coming under more pressure to accelerate growth as it grapples with more competition from Apple, Facebook and Twitter. Google's fourth-quarter revenue was $14.5 billion excluding sales passed onto partners, missing analysts' average projection.

--Bloomberg News

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