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We’ve heard of Project Ara: the modular smartphone; and Project Tango: a 3D tracking smartphone and tablet. This week, however, news broke about Project Nova, a new Google initiative with the goal of providing “data-centric” wireless service in the United States.

The news today comes by way of a report from the Information, which is behind a paywall, but the salient points are helpfully parsed by a post on Neowin. According to the report, Project Nova will operate on pre-existing cellular networks built and maintained by Sprint and T-Mobile, and will exist a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO.

Nick Fox, Google's VP of Product Development, is reportedly heading Project Nova.
Nick Fox, Google’s VP of Product Management, is reportedly heading Project Nova.

If you’re wondering what that term refers to, just think of the various lower-tier mobile networks you see advertised on TV or in stores like Target or Walmart – brands like Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, or Virgin Mobile. All of those are owned by third-parties riding on networks owned and operated by the bigger wireless companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

Project Nova is being managed by Nick Fox, Google’s vice president of product management and leads the company’s AdWords team. Given AdWords’ success and Project Nova’s customer-oriented focus, it seems like this will be a pretty good fit. The report says that Google will look to offer a lower-priced alternative to the bigger networks’ plans to “boost the usage of modern communication apps.”

That sounds like Project Nova will look to provide high threshold data plans, possibly at the expense of talk and text, so that users can make VOiP calls via apps like Google Hangouts. If Project Nova can provide good enough data coverage for customers, that can become a practical reality, too.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this report. As of now, there’s no timeline or pricing details offered in the report, so it’s entirely possible that this may never actually launch. However, it’s a new year, and Google I/O is coming up in just a few months, not to mention MWC in Barcelona starting in March. Don’t be surprised to hear about this before too long…

[Sources: The Information via Neowin]

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