In Google’s first address to Mobile World Congress, Google chief executive Eric Scmidt sought to allay fears within the mobile industry it is to turn network operators into “dumb pipes” carrying data traffic via its search engine and to its sundry service offerings.
Schmidt said: “I disagree that we are trying to turn the operators into dumb pipes. We need advanced and sophisticated networks. We are not going to be investing in broad scale infrastructure – we are going to have the operators do it.”
Earlier yesterday, Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao has suggested “monopolistic power” of the scale Google enjoys in fixed internet services could hamper competition if it is replicated in the mobile internet space.
He said the industry’s potential role to re-shape society hinged on their future profitability and investment in infrastructure. The heavy usage of services from the likes of Google on smartphones has burdened data networks in developed markets.
Network operators are investing heavily to bolster infrastructure accordingly, but are struggling to realise a comparable return as they look for ways to take money from more than straight airtime provision.
But Schmidt said most “interesting growth” in the space comes from mobile data, and that all parties benefit from the new era. He recognised network operators investment and bandwidth issues, and said Google will not “run roughshod” over them.
But he said network operators also need, and request, Google to do a job for them to swell data traffic and lead uptake of new mobile services.