Google is reportedly in talks to acquire Nokia’s Oye’s in-flight broadband internet technology, according to a new report out of Bloomberg, which in turn credits “people familiar with the matter” for the information. At present, the talks are said to be just that with the unnamed sources stating no deal has been done and both companies may still pull away from the deal for whatever reason. However, the same sources were also reportedly noted explaining how the talks are at a more advanced stage and to the point where if a deal is to be reached, it could be done soon.
If the information is correct and a deal is done then the general understanding is this will see Google looking to establish itself as a provider of high-speed internet to consumers when they are on an aircraft. In fact, as this is Nokia’s solution, it would seem as though Google is looking to enter the market at a more advanced and reliable stage as Nokia’s system is an LTE A2G cellular-based solution. This essentially means that instead of making use of a satellite to establish a connection on an aircraft the service makes use of ground-based connection points - it is an air-to-ground (A2G) solution. The end result being a more reliable and 4G LTE-like connected experience compared to traditional in-flight Wi-Fi. In spite of recent advancements to satellite-based Wi-Fi.
From a wider perspective, this would see Google adding to its already-existing internet connected-based services. As this is a company that is also in the process of trying to bring internet to more people’s homes through its Fiber project, and to more remote locations through the likes of Loon, as well as at the MVNO level through Fi. So an acquisition of this kind would be in keeping with Google’s larger ambition of bringing internet connectivity to more people, in more places, including now it would seem, when in-flight. From Nokia’s perspective, the report explains how in spite of developing the technology, in-flight services are less of a priority for Nokia compared to its 5G ambitions, and is therefore open to the possibility of selling the technology.