Google shows telco ambition with Fiber Phone launch

Google has made a statement over its telco ambitions by announcing the launch of its fixed line residential phone offering, Fiber Phone.

Fixed line telephony has long been considered a dying revenue stream, and is now often bundled as an inclusive extra with most standard internet packages. Google is attempting to buck that trend by announcing a fixed line service with an updated range of features to drag it in line with 21st century consumer expectations.

Fiber Phone will retain the quintessential features of fixed telephony, such as call waiting, caller ID and emergency services access; while it also claims to be bringing in cloud technology to allow access from almost anywhere. John Shriver-Blake, a product manager at Google Fiber, explained the cloud-based functionality on the company’s blog page.

“Fiber Phone can help you make the most of your home phone – even when you’re not at home,” he said. “Adding Fiber Phone means getting access on the road, in the office, or wherever you are. Your Fiber Phone number lives in the cloud, which means that you can use it on almost any phone, tablet or laptop. It can ring your landline when you’re home, or your mobile device when you’re on-the-go.”

Another interesting feature is transcribed auto-forwarding of voicemails received on the home phone. “Fiber Phone can also make it easier to access your voicemail – the service will transcribe your voice messages for you and then send as a text or email,” wrote Shriver-Blake.

While Google is yet to commit to a definite launch date for its phone service, the announcement marks another milestone in the digital-to-physical shift being made by the company that started life as an internet search engine. Google Fiber is now present in nine cities, with seven more on the way and a further 11 being identified; and a growing presence in major US cities could start becoming a bit of a headache for major telcos – both fixed and mobile. Considering Google’s expansion of its MVNO Project Fi, it’s reasonable to expect a concerted effort in both internet and mobile for consumers in the offing – perhaps even some sort of multiplay offering.

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