Google has slowly been crossing paths with the carriers, by its recent spectrum purchases and fiber lines. Carriers have traditionally looked at Skype and Google Voice with a sense of alarm, this latest announcement is likely to light an even bigger sense of fear. Carriers have traditionally sold voice minutes and data. At worst, most telcos believed they might be relegated to the role of a dumb-pipe. That is now set to change as Google looks to subsidize these services giving it away for free. Free will come with a price of your identity, location and some personal information. Google is quietly becoming an advertising powerhouse and location-based advertising is squarely in their sights.
Google Voice will likely be the monetization vehicle to make this happen. One important thing that is not being covered by the media is that consumers talk on their mobile phones 50% of the time indoors. Also, the majority of phones being sold these days are smartphones that have Wi-Fi VoIP capabilities. This means that you don't really need to be connected to the outside cellular network if you are only using data and you have an IP-based Voice application like Skype or Google Voice.