As is being reported in a number of places now, Google has filed a patent application ("Flexible Communication Systems and Methods") to create what amounts to an open, competitive marketplace for wireless telecommunications and broadband services. It would theoretically permit users to move with their mobile devices (computers, phones, etc.) between networks and, essentially, always be assured of a connection at the best price.
Sellers of bandwidth, under the proposed marketplace system, would participate in a real-time auction to provide those connection services to end users. Here's how the patent application describes the invention:
A method of initiating a telecommunication session for a communication device include submitting to one or more telecommunication carriers a proposal for a telecommunication session, receiving from at least one of the one or more of telecommunication carriers a bid to carry the telecommunications session, and automatically selecting one of the telecommunications carriers from the carriers submitting a bid, and initiating the telecommunication session through the selected telecommunication carrier.
Here's a concrete discussion (from the application) of how it might work:
This document describes devices, systems, and methods for providing telecommunication access and applications to users in a flexible manner. Devices may operate on multiple networks, and may in certain circumstances seek out bids from telecommunication service providers. For example, a device such as a mobile telephone may have the capability to operate over multiple different networks, including a home network when in the home, to transition to a metropolitan network when outside the home but in a higher-density area (urban/suburban), and transition to a more traditional cellular network when outside such a higher density area. The connections may, in appropriate circumstances, be provided by different telecommunications providers, and may involve hand-offs of a particular communication session from one provider to another.
The essence of all this is to create near continuous connections for people so as they move between networks they can remain "online" (laptop, mobile) and -- it almost goes without saying -- continue to use Google services. The vehicle for this continuous connectivity is an auction marketplace. Devices that operated on all wireless networks would need to come into being to take full advantage of its capabilities.
In a certain way this is like an uber-roaming plan. However, it would be challenging to build the billing and payments (and related agreements) infrastructure for this marketplace in my mind. Then there are the "political" objections of US mobile carriers and others who wouldn't want to be subject to a bidding marketplace for their services -- that Google administered or "owned."