Google hopes to add free roaming to its coming cellular service

Hutchison Whampoa touted as possible wholesale partner

Another detail has emerged about Google's plan to resell mobile services under its own brand: the Chocolate Factory hopes it will be able to offer free international roaming with its handsets.

The UK's Daily Telegraph reports the Chocolate Factory is negotiating its first roaming deal with Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong giant behind the Three brand.

International data roaming, in particular, is responsible for a lot of bill shock among international travellers.

A wholesale access arrangement with Hutch would mean users roaming into its markets would get free roaming. These markets include the UK, Ireland, Italy, Asian countries including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and possibly Australia thanks to its half-share in Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

Google kicked off its mobile strategy in the US when it signed wholesale deals with T-Mobile and Sprint.

Since T-Mobile spotted European roaming as an opportunity back in 2013, Google is probably looking to the Three network to reach other territories.

While it puts together the contracts it needs to offer services, Google is also working on supporting America's newly-liberalised 3.5 GHz spectrum in Android phones.

Resale deals on existing carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile are necessary to let 3.5 GHz-capable phones roam to other frequencies where that spectrum isn't available.

If the deal with Hutchison Whampoa goes through, Google's next move will probably be to identify partners that fill in the remaining gaps in its map. ®

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