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Can Google Beat AT&T?

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Imagining Google’s next move has the same dreamy qualities of buying a lottery ticket – a mountain of cash pulls the heavens closer and the term “extravagance” loses its meaning. In short, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities, even if a dream, of what Google can achieve.

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One of the more interesting dreams is born of sheer perfect timing. In June, the U.S. government will auction off chunks of radio spectrum with bids expected to go as high as $10-$15 billion. The owners of these spectra can, conceivably, set up a wireless broadband network.

Prior to the upcoming auction, so the theory goes, Google and a host of Internet companies, frustrated with seemingly fruitless battles with a Congress sympathetic to telecommunication giants who want to tighten control over Internet access, take a peak at their account balances and realize they can become ISPs. And they can do it rather easily.

These same telecoms that have been muscling anti-Net Neutrality measures into federal and state-level legislatures have also been hounding Google and bandwidth-exhaustive content providers to share the cost of delivery.

But what if Google, either alone or with partners like Amazon and eBay (even Microsoft) could buy that radio spectrum, set up a wireless network, and bypass their struggles with the telecoms altogether? We the people, continuously under the thumb of telecom extortion, would herald them as heroes.

There are two upcoming spectrum auctions. The one in June offers 1710-1755 and 2210-2155 MHz frequency bands. A second one, which could happen as late as 2008, is for a larger and possibly cheaper 700 MHz frequency band.

“A consortium of new media companies could wind up leading the pack to buy that spectrum (700 MHz) and provide a third (broadband) pipe into homes,” said Washington Analysis’ George Dellinger.

AT&T’s Jim Cicconi, in that same Investors.com article, wouldn’t be surprised at unusual bidding from companies who don’t even have concrete plans.

“It wouldn’t shock me to find a range of unusual bidders in the upcoming spectrum auctions,” said Cicconi. “”Experience has shown that some companies haven’t needed a well thought-out business plan to bid (in earlier auctions).”

NetworkingPipeline’s Preston Galla joins us in our dream state:

“Google is already building wireless networks in San Francisco and its home of Mountain View. The company is sitting on top of the biggest pile of cash south of Bill Gates — probably close to $10 billion after a planned $2 billion new stock offering. It can afford to do it. And when it comes to cash, eBay and Amazon aren’t slouches, either.

“So the network neutrality debate may blow up in AT&T’s face. When it comes to buying bandwidth, I’ll choose Google over the telco dinosaurs any day of the week.”

(Applause)

And if you allow yourself to float dreamily down this road, it is easy (in your thoughts at least) to put the puzzle pieces together, dropping each jig-sawed kernel into place. We remember the GEMAYA prophecy (a future projection of one Internet super company consisting of Google, eBay, Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo, and AOL).

We are aware of the convergence of media, Google’s video and audio plans. We’ve learned of interesting wireless patent applications. We’ve dreamt and speculated, been immensely disappointed, and then continued on again (once over our heartbreak) to imagine what could be done with all that money.

What does Google have to say about it? The same thing they always say:

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your email. Unfortunately I’m unable to comment on rumor or
speculation. Thanks for checking in with us though.

Megan Quinn
Google inc.

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