Google Undecided On Joining Wireless Auction

    July 10, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

With a nationwide transition to digital television slowly taking place, Google may be interested in participating in the federal auction of the 700MHz wireless bands.

Those bands will not be needed once the digital transition happens in 2009. Many companies have an interest in grabbing this bandwidth for themselves.

Google has been thought to be one of the big Internet players leaning toward shelling out some cash when the auction takes place. The decision to buy or not hasn’t been made in Mountain View yet, as Google’s Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, said on the company’s Public Policy blog.

Though Google has publicly advocated for the FCC to make the auction process friendly to “new and innovative broadband companies,” that doesn’t mean Google will commit to being one of them. Whoever wins should be compelled to adhere to a quartet of suggestions that will best serve consumers:

•  Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
•  Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
•  Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
•  Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

Though Google is being as coy about participating in the auction as Bud Selig is about showing up for Barry Bonds’ 756th homer, we would be very surprised to not see them participate. The potential for them becoming a wireless phone player has been speculated on before by us and plenty of other industry observers.

We’ll repeat again what we have suggested in the past. A Google Phone product combined with a network backed by Google’s dark fiber purchases, bolstered by a slew of Sun Microsystems’ Project Blackbox portable datacenters placed at key Internet peering points, carrying and supported by Google’s various advertising products, could disrupt the entire wireless communication industry.

That would certainly break the “existing broadband access duopoly” between cable and telecoms. When Whitt claimed creating new competition would benefit consumers, we can’t help but hear the Google name being mentioned sotto voce in the background.