Google Voice in the UK

Google voice looks like an awesome service that could be a huge game changer in the UK telecoms market (especially if it was fully integrated into Android), however there seems to be doubt as to wherever the service will ever be rolled out in the UK market. One issue that might pose a problem is that the UK and US telecom operators follow a different billing model.

In the UK we have a “caller pays” model where the cost of the call is charged to the account of person who initates the call. Wherehas in the US the opposite happens: the subsriber pays for calls they receive on their line. This means it would cost google to forward a call on to a UK number, wherehas in the US system the user would pay the costs.

I’m not sure whether the caller pays system would present an insurmountable obstacle to Google Voice arriving in the UK, however if so Google could always leverage some of its huge cash reserves and purchase a mobile network. I realise this is exceedingly unlikely, but there would be several interesting benefits too Google:

  • Direct path to the end-user to deliver web services without having to rely on 3rd party ISP’s
  • Diversified revenue stream from line rental, reducing reliance on advertising
  • Deliver high bandwidth content such as Youtube from servers embeded directly in the mobile network itself

It would be interesting to see what google could do in a carrier role, especially if they took the existing business model and tore it up.