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Google Plans to Bid 4.6 Billion on 700MHz Band 148

Posted by Zonk
from the dude-you've-been-googed dept.
NickCatal writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google plans to bid $4.6 Billion on the 700 MHz radio spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC. What is most interesting is that they are not planning on partnering with other companies to raise the cash, they are going to spend their own cash and possibly borrow some. With partners such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in their 'Open Handset Alliance' is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?"
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Google Plans to Bid 4.6 Billion on 700MHz Band

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  • Shocking!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328)
    Didnt they say they would do this a long time ago? How is this a story again?
  • Do even Google have this kind of cash? It's a very big bet for a company to make- if this goes wrong they could sink the whole Google ship.
    • by Nexus7 (2919) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:38AM (#21378467)
      > Do even Google have this kind of cash?

      I think Sergey is going to sell 100 shares.
    • by Roofus (15591) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:53AM (#21378655) Homepage
      Googles Market Cap is $198 Billion [cnn.com]. I think they can find the capital if need be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bill Dimm (463823)
      According to Yahoo's stock info for Google [yahoo.com], Google has $13B in cash and it makes $4B per year in profit.
      • by tknd (979052)
        According to Google Finance [google.com] that figure is current assets which is cash + short term investments. Short term investments is usually very liquid and can be turned into cash within a year. However, their cash alone is still 5.1 billion.
        • It isn't current assets, it is cash + short term investments that total to 13 billion. Though their current assets isn't much larger since they are mostly a software company (15 billion).
    • by siliconwafer (446697) on Friday November 16, 2007 @11:03AM (#21378777)
      At the close of their most recent quarter Google has more than $13B in cash in the bank. They also have no debt to speak of.

      With a market capitalization of nearly $200B, no debt, and a 22% return on equity, Google should have absolutely no problem raising cash if necessary. I suspect they will tap into their cash reserves rather than debt financing or raising capital by diluting existing shareholder equity.

      The numbers are here:
      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=GOOG [yahoo.com]
    • Do even Google have this kind of cash? It's a very big bet for a company to make- if this goes wrong they could sink the whole Google ship.


      I imagine that RF spectrum is an asset that they could liquidate very easily if needed. It's not going to get any less valuable while they're holding onto it, and as long as they don't overpay, it very well may appreciate in value.
      • by Feyr (449684)
        in fact, i'd say it's going to get more valuable as time pass. spectrum is at a premium (hah!) right now and it's only getting worse (or better..)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by squiggleslash (241428)

          I think the opposite is true. You'd be amazed how much spectrum has been opened up and has been bought up cheaply because the big players are waiting for the lower frequency stuff to become available. We haven't heard that much about it because the technologies being deployed, WiMAX and UMTS-TDD, are still in their infancy, and because with the exception of Sprint (which is rolling back its WiMAX plans anyway) no big names with big budgets are involved.

          We're going to see a spectrum glut over the next few

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by encoderer (1060616)
            In summary...640k ought to be enough for everybody ;)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by squiggleslash (241428)

              Of course not! It's just spectrum isn't going to be the major issue affecting bandwidth use over the next few years; creating low power technologies capable of processing the information quickly enough is more likely to be the major factor. And yes, technologies improve, but operators also have to keep making cell sizes progressively smaller as they fill in coverage holes, effectively creating more bandwidth without increasing spectrum usage.

              And I haven't even covered the huge increases in unlicensed wir

    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday November 16, 2007 @11:36AM (#21379247)

      Do even Google have this kind of cash?
      Do we as customers have that kind of cash? Whoever pays $4.6 BN for it is darn sure they'll turn around and charge even more for us to use it. I would rather see the FCC simply make up some non-interference rules and spare us all the expense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Not necessarily. The purchaser will most likely utilize the spectrum in the way which makes the most profit. For Google's business model, that may entail unencumbered access to get as large a user base as possible for directed advertising.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        There are approximately 300 million people in the USA, so this works out at just over $15 per person. If they get 20% of people to use their service, it's $60 per person (over the lifetime of the licence). I strongly suspect that they can make this much profit. The cost of building the infrastructure is likely to be much more than this.
      • by sowth (748135) on Friday November 16, 2007 @01:40PM (#21380969) Journal

        The FCC isn't going to do that. Now their primary function is to steal the radio spectrum from the people and auction it off to the highest bidder.

        I'm beginning to think there is no point following FCC rules. If the government is going to be greedy thieving bastards with our radio spectrum, why not just become freebanders? WTF? I thought the FCC was supposed to regulate the airwaves for everyone's benefit? If they just take them away to sell them, then they are just another scheme by the corrupt goverment to separate the citizens from their rightful use of public commons and get money out of it.

        • by DavidShor (928926) *
          How do you propose they distribute radio spectrum then?
          • by sowth (748135)

            How about developing communication protocols for use on certain bands. Such as a wireless networking standard. One which gives greater bandwidth and further range, instead of networking being put on the area no one wants--the 2.4GHz band shared with microwave ovens. In fact, I thought they were going to do this when they eliminated some tv channels. Then I hear this story.

        • What do you think happens to that 4.6 billion? Sits in the FCC bank account? Allows the FCC CEO to purchase a private island in the Bahamas? No. The money is gets pulled back into the government so that congress can appropriate the money for everyone's benefit.
      • by StringBlade (557322) * on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:36PM (#21381783) Journal
        There are already network transparency provisions on this frequency which makes it particularly appealing for consumers to buy devices designed to run on this spectrum. Last year Google petitioned the FCC to include four conditions of sale for this spectrum including network transparency for devices (meaning you can't be locked in like you are with Sprint/Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile when you buy a phone) and something about requiring the high bidder to provide access to competitors for a reasonable price.

        The FCC shot down two of the four suggestions, but the network transparency provisions stayed in. I'm holding off on buying a new phone for a while because if I can get a device (from any carrier) on this frequency I know I'm not locked in by the technology according to the conditions of sale.

        Verizon and Sprint are fighting this condition in a lawsuit against the FCC.
    • They make that much in pure profit alone in one year.
    • Well, as at the end of last year, they had $11,243,914,000 in cash or equivalent per their 10K filing [sec.gov].
  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:28AM (#21378323) Journal
    becoming a cell phone provider any more than an internet provider.

    Most likely it'll involve them leasing out the band to other users to prevent a monopoly. Maybe giving a discount to users of Google's cell phone tech and/or adding special features that (by owning the band) it can ensure will be available anywhere there is a tower that handles the band.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Da_Biz (267075)
      From the article:
      Some carriers have privately expressed skepticism about Google's ambitions, saying it is vastly underestimating the challenges of operating a network, providing customer service and gaining traction as a new entrant in a crowded wireless market.

      Forget Google! The existing carriers continue to underestimate the challenges of operating a network. I have friends spread out across many carriers where I live (Sprint, Verizon, Deathstar), and I've gotta say, the customer service still sucks mig
  • why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bzudo (1151979)
    why disclose how much you are going to bid? that's like playing poker and revealing your cards. i won't google to win, but why let the other guys raise 4.6 billion and 1 penny?
    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:37AM (#21378453)
      because it doesn't work like that.

      There'll be many "rounds" of bidding. The initial bid is just to see who's interested. After that, the stakes will rise with each interested party desperately trying to squeeze more finance out of their partners/banks/owners to raise their bid.

      At some point one will either not be able to raise any more ca$h and quit the bidding rounds, while the other go on. Some will realise that at the price they will have to pay, their business model breaks and they won;t make any profit.

      Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt, have to join up with some other bidders (who pulled out earlier) or not have enough monkey left to actually build the systems they wanted to implement.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:49AM (#21378601) Journal

        Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt

        The whole system fucking sucks. Why exactly are AT&T and Verizon even allowed to take part in this auction? Both of them have TONS of spectrum in the cellular, PCS and even AWS bands. Why is there no justification process attached to bidding on a limited resource and no mechanism in place to keep greedy monopolies from hoarding all of the spectrum to shut out newcomers?

        Did you know in some markets that AT&T holds over 75% of the available cellular and PCS spectrum? They justified this back in the day by claiming that they needed to run three networks -- AMPS (analog), TDMA and GSM, even as they were forcing their customers to vacate the old AMPS and TDMA equipment.

        I find it depressingly ironic that I have to fill out paperwork to justify my IP requests to ARIN, but a far more limited resource that theoretically belongs to everybody is just auctioned off to the highest bidder with no consideration as to whether or not it's in the interest of the public. Hell, even the limited "open access" rules that have been purposed are even being fought by Verizon, because they'd rather lock you into their hardware, their content and their service then allow an open market to flourish.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Blahgerton (1083623)

          The whole system fucking sucks. Why exactly is the radio spectrum even up for auction?
          There fixed that for you. Gotta love our government, selling the people's property.
        • by cfulmer (3166)
          Why not? The more who participate, the higher the price paid -- spectrum auctions offset my taxes.

          Plus, if Verizon thinks it can out-bid Google and do something with the spectrum that its customers will be willing to pay more than $4.6B for, that's a good thing. If they turn out to be wrong and somebody else can, than Verizon's best bet is to sell the spectrum to that other company.
          • by Shakrai (717556) *

            The more who participate, the higher the price paid -- spectrum auctions offset my taxes.

            What a wonderful free-market view of the problem. Of course it's not really saving you a nickel if you need to use wireless service and wind up paying more for that service because of the entrenched market positions of the dominant carriers, who are only gobbling up more spectrum to prevent anybody new from coming into the market.

            One would think that with a free and competitive market that prices, terms and conditions would come down/align with the interests of consumers, because after all, in a free m

            • by cfulmer (3166)
              If you have some proof that the carriers are coordinating their prices with each other, I'd love to see it. Horizontal price maintenance is a huge antitrust violation.

              Watch out, though -- you can't use the fact that they all price the same, since that would also happen in a market without price maintenance. This is true even when prices go up -- it appears that people do not buy mobile phone service because of SMS message pricing. (BTW... I can buy unlimited messages for about an additional $10/month.)

              T
              • by Shakrai (717556) *

                The only thing that's changed is how the government decides who gets it

                And therein lies the problem as far as I'm concerned. There used to be a requirement that broadcasters serve the "public interest".

                But, if they get outbid, it'll be because their model won't offer things that are as valuable to consumers as the high bidder.

                I'm sorry, but I don't buy this, as I obviously have a differing view of the merits of the "market" then you do. As it stands there is nothing stopping Verizon or AT&T from bidding on spectrum they don't need for the sole purpose of locking out new providers or putting existing ones at a dis-advantage. How the hell can you justify that?

                I find it morally questionab

                • by cfulmer (3166)
                  You're right that there's nothing stopping Verizon from out-bidding all the other providers just to prevent competition by letting the spectrum sit idle. Well, nothing except $4.6B. Verizon is only going to do that if it thinks that, by doing so, its subscribers will give it $4.6B more than they otherwise would have.

                  And, now, that's going to be really difficult since Verizon is paying the price of locking out new competition, but AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, SunComm & the rest all receive the benefits
                  • by Shakrai (717556) *

                    As far as the "resource that should belong to everybody" thing goes, check out the "Tragedy of the Commons" in Wikipedia. Things that are owned by everybody are invariably overused, which drives down the total benefit. Granting a property right in that thing, which happens on the auction, is a common solution to the problem.

                    I've never advocated treating the radio bands like the commons of old. But I don't think it's asking too much that we take steps to bring new people into this market instead of strengthening the hands of the existing businesses that are doing everything they possibly can to ensure their business model remains intact even if that requires stamping out innovative features and technologies that consumers want.

                    The 700mhz band is probably the last chance we have (outside of more Government regulation) of ha

                    • by DavidShor (928926) *
                      Ma Bell had a monopoly. In a true free-market, governments robustly monitor companies to enforce copyright. Perhaps that is where you should focus your outrage.
                    • by dangitman (862676)

                      In a true free-market, governments robustly monitor companies to enforce copyright.

                      That doesn't make sense. If it were a truly free market, there would be no government regulation.

                    • by DavidShor (928926) *
                      No, that is anarchy. The General Welfare Theorem requires that firms lack Market Power, that Externalities don't exist, and there is perfect regulation.

                      It is the responsibility of government to approximate these conditions as accurately as possible.

          • How does it offset your taxes? When the government gets more money, they don't reduce taxes, they find new ways to waste it--or politicians find new ways to secretly line their pockets. What planet have you been living on?

            • by cfulmer (3166)
              Well, that's the cynical view. The even more cynical view is that if they didn't get the revenue from the auction, they'd just raise my taxes even higher.

              I propose a better alternative: just give it away in a lottery, but let the lottery winner sell the spectrum to whoever they want. The net effect would be about the same (unless you end up with some kooky winner who's unwilling to accept $4.6 billion), but the lottery winner would get the revenue, not the gov't.
              • by DavidShor (928926) *
                Income and Sales taxes cause large distortions. We should move as much of the government's fundraising to auctioning of externalities as possible.
                • by sowth (748135)

                  You are correct. I propose they start by auctioning off your body parts. ;-)

        • by truesaer (135079)
          Auctioning to the highest bidder (subject to monopoly/antitrust law) is sort of guaranteeing it is in the public interest. In this case the government thinks the public interest in in using the spectrum for maximum increase of GDP. If it goes to the highest bidder it will be bought by whoever can expect to get the best return from it, which has the maximum benefit to the economy.
          • by Shakrai (717556) *

            f it goes to the highest bidder it will be bought by whoever can expect to get the best return from it

            "Best return" is a subjective term. My "best return" if I bought spectrum might translate into successfully establishing a wireless carrier with enough customers to survive and make money after my venture capital runs out.

            Verizon's "best return" might translate into buying spectrum that they don't need just to keep me out of the market.

            I fail to see how it would harm them or the economy to have to prove they actually have plans for all of this spectrum that they are gobbling up when they aren't even f

        • by Malc (1751)
          And why is this even an option. Let's get the US on the same frequencies and cellular standards as the rest of the world. Then everybody's a winner.
          • by Shakrai (717556) *

            Let's get the US on the same frequencies and cellular standards as the rest of the world

            Uhh, you do know that it's not just the US using 850/1900 instead of 900/1800, right? Most of the Americas use 850/1900. This isn't a US vs. the World thing (like the metric fiasco is....)

            And while it would be nice if the whole world had a standard on this, it's not likely to happen now that there are hundreds of millions of handsets and tens of thousands of base stations using the existing bands. Sucks, but that's the reality of the situation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bogtha (906264)

        Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt, have to join up with some other bidders (who pulled out earlier) or not have enough monkey left to actually build the systems they wanted to implement.

        Yeah, I hate it when I go to build something and realise that I've run out of monkey.

      • by jrumney (197329)
        If the FCC really wants to encourage that, then they should adopt the same bidding process as the UK used for the 3G spectrum auction. The highest bidder pays the price of the second highest bid. This encourages bubble-headed companies to put in ridiculously high bids, secure in the knowledge that even if they win, they won't have to pay as much as they bid. But oops, more than one company adopted the same strategy.
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ducu2002 (1079987) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:41AM (#21378513)
      4.6 billion is the minimum price the FCC is willing to actually sell for, as in if nobody bids as much as 4.6 the FCC won't actually sell. So by saying to the FCC we'll bid 4.6 they assure the FCC they'll get the price they wanted. In exchange for this assurance Google got 2 out of 4 condition for free access to the frequency.
    • They announce it to scare off others and set a starting bid. That way if it's public knowledge it may go for over 4billion, I'm sure a lot of smaller companies wont even show up to bid. Plus it says nothing about how much they are willing to spend total, just that 4.6 is what they're publicly saying now.
    • by hodet (620484)
      Ummm....no, it's just the initial bet. The cards are still very much hidden.
  • Not an Act of War (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:29AM (#21378335) Journal

    With partners such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in their 'Open Handset Alliance' is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?
    Perhaps it's just me but I thought the 'Open Handset Alliance' merely strove to see a common development platform with standards in relation to code, transferring data & hardware. I don't think this suddenly warrants the companies to throw in their lot together and go in together on everything.

    The band that a company owns seems to be a completely different business investment.

    Case in point, when a company 'joins' the World Wide Web Consortium [w3.org], it isn't considered unfriendly for them to go buy another T1 line for their company or even purchase software from a company who doesn't support W3C.

    And the reason I hesitate to use the word 'joins' is that when a standard is truly open, you don't have to join to use it. Hell, you really shouldn't even be forced to use it forever. It's open. It's out there for anybody to use or to stop using. That's what attracts me to open standards. I haven't paid IBM or signed an agreement with Microsoft whereby if a new technology arises I have to wait for the agreement to wear off.

    You shouldn't have to 'buy in' to the Open Handset Alliance and I think you're thinking of it in the wrong way when you imply that it's detrimental by not going in with other members on this auction from the FCC.

    If they did a good job making the standards and you don't have to commit to it, other companies will want to use it. They aren't going to care if Google is still trying to make a profit in other realms. Just because Google made an open standard for everyone to use doesn't mean they now need to sit back on their heels and be ultra careful not to upset anyone--and the other companies know this. Hell, everyone needs to make a profit.
  • by faloi (738831) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:30AM (#21378347)
    But not being restricted by the people they've partnered with. If they have the rights to the spectrum free and clear of entanglements from other companies, they aren't limited to a single carrier (or group of carriers) for their offerings. They also have a bit more freedom to play around in the sandbox. Likely the companies they've worked with in the past will get some preferential treatment, but it allows Google to have ultimate control (well, except for the FCC of course).
    • No it's pretty much competing with... Although, there is some truth to what you say. It's definitely a straight competition with the GSM carriers, that is for certain.
  • My bet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:42AM (#21378515) Journal
    will be that the initial Bid will be for that, but that they will join forces with others, possibly IBM, Apple, etc. to jump this bid up. I think that they want to win this for the simple reason of insurance that ISP can not kill them off. Right now, the Communications/ISP industry is heading towards a gov. issued oligopoly with outrageous prices and lousy service. With an open network, Google can put pressure on all of the industry to move towards an open network. As far as their open system and pissing off their "partners", you did notice that few carriers are there? It is mostly equipment folks. That means that the real partners will be outside of USA. Sprint is doing it, but that does not mean that they will offer it. But if they can have an edge on Verizon and ATT, well, yeah, they will go through with it.
  • More likely.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CodeShark (17400) <<ellsworthpc> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:46AM (#21378567) Homepage
    By ponying up their own cash, they are putting a gun to the heads of virtually every US telco, because it basically says to them "Google's got bandwidth of our own that doesn't pay you one red cent. So we don't have to play ball with any of you."


    But if a telco chooses to "play nice" and open their network to the OCA based, presumably uber-cool handset and applications, folks may just stay with an existing provider and then both Google and the Wireless provider both get to make buckets of $$$.

  • $ for citizens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:54AM (#21378667)
    Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up. The FCC while not an official government body is still somewhat kind of part of the government. Will this money go back to the people since after all it's all our frequencies, we just choose to let the FCC govern it for us.
    • Would be nice if the money were used to build a better broadband infrastructure so we weren't so damn far behind everyone else. That is really going to hurt us in the near future and exclude us from the truly global marketplace. How many municipal wifi systems could you build with ~$5 billion? Is there some other better way of using the money for our nation's internet access? Might be a good idea for Google to spend a few extra million publicizing the fact that a gov agency is about to get a lot of money th
      • by dintech (998802)
        I think the money that is bid should be spent by the bidding company on the infrastructure intended. For instance, if Google can afford to build 4.6B$ infrastructure then that sounds like a reasonably good bid to me.
        • by Ed Avis (5917)
          That's a recipe for corruption and mandated stupidity; a company could bid to build $5T 'worth' of infrastructure and then artificially inflate costs to meet that level by paying exorbitant salaries to the boss's nephew, etc. The wireless spectrum is a scarce resource, and one way to allocate it (not the only way, but one that seems to work well for other scarce resources such as land) is for companies to pay money for the part they want. This at least has the advantage that it's free of political conside
    • by garcia (6573)
      Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up. The FCC while not an official government body is still somewhat kind of part of the government. Will this money go back to the people since after all it's all our frequencies, we just choose to let the FCC govern it for us.

      I want to see all this money, plus *all* of the money from the sale of the television spectrum following the HD deadline, to come back to us as a fat check to pay for one day in Iraq.
    • by dewarrn1 (985887) on Friday November 16, 2007 @12:18PM (#21379841)
      From http://www.fcc.gov/aboutus.html [fcc.gov]

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
      Proceeds from auctions appear to be paid to the Treasury, although I admit I didn't wade through the entire act and it has been amended piecemeal since enactment http://www.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf [fcc.gov] (PDF warning):

      (C) DEPOSIT AND USE OF AUCTION ESCROW ACCOUNTS.-- Any deposits the Commission may require for the qualification of any person to bid in a system of competitive bidding pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited in an interest bearing account at a financial institution designated for purposes of this subsection by the Commission (after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury). Within 45 days following the conclusion of the competitive bidding-- (i) the deposits of successful bidders shall be paid to the Treasury; (ii) the deposits of unsuccessful bidders shall be returned to such bidders; and (iii) the interest accrued to the account shall be transferred to the Telecommunications Development Fund established pursuant to section 714 of this Act.
    • by arkham6 (24514)
      "Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up."

      Iraq, I would guess.
    • by outcast36 (696132)
      this is second-hand info, so take with NaCl.

      The FCC is indeed a federal agency, and that money will go back to the federal budget after FCC buys everything they need. My friend worked at the FCC and he said they had VERY nice hardware. And since they donate x BILLION USD back to the federal budget OMB isn't watching every nickel & dime.
    • by jc42 (318812)
      ... it's all our frequencies, we just choose to let the FCC govern it for us.

      Funny, I keep seeing claims like this, but I don't recall ever taking part in any election in which I was allowed to vote on such a thing. And the FCC has certainly never asked me personally to give them permission to govern my part of the spectrum.

      In fact, when I look at the history, I find that the FCC was created and handed control of the spectrum before I was born. I obviously didn't "choose" to let this happen, since I didn'
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:54AM (#21378669)
    Perhaps the whole problem with the FCC is that they auction the spectrum to the highest bidder.

    No wonder providers lock out third party handsets. They just paid billions for the spectrum, they have every incentive to maximize profits.

    What would be most beneficial to the consumer is perhaps a company that just sold mobile IP addresses and had nothing to do with selling devices. Let consumers choose their own devices in a competitive market for the bandwidth they purchase. Maybe the FCC should stop thinking about billions of short term dollars and start thinking about what's best for consumers and the industry as a whole.

    • A business setup not for the sake of the shareholders but for the benefit of the people. Controlled by the state to see that it encourages innovation and equality.

      Why you could even use the profits to fund goverment, call it a state run industry.

      You communist, and no pointing out that the original US postal system worked like this and that this is what allowed the US goverment to have low taxes since it had other sources of income.

    • by truesaer (135079)
      Auctioning spectrum is actually a really good idea, it ensures the spectrum is allocated to its highest value use.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      In the US there is no economic incentive to make handsets that are universal. Therefore, there is no assurance without carrier testing that a given handset will work with their system. The tower systems themselves have quirks that make some handsets not work very well.

      As I said, there is no incentive to change this today. This is why you can't get Nokia handsets from Verizon - their testing shows they don't work very well with the system Verizon is using.

      Would it be nicer in a techy-geeky sort of way if
  • Sprint and T-Mobile seem to have no problem competing with each other while also joining the OHA.

    And Google has been planning to spend $billions on the 700MHz band to compete with them all for years.

    This story isn't stupid, but the question it asks to frame it is so stupid I'm surprised I didn't see it on TV news.
  • The Hot FM. (Score:2, Funny)

    by jackpot777 (1159971)
    Google. 700 FM. M. M. m. m. m. Can anyone confirm the info on this page: [jneuhaus.com] the 700MHz band is currently TV Channel 52. People watching this station in Oklahoma [ksbitv.com] might get some interference. I know - switch to digital TV. But wouldn't it be funny if Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sounded like two farmers talking about tractors!
  • by nerdyalien (1182659) on Friday November 16, 2007 @11:03AM (#21378775)
    hope they not gonna read the Voice-Mails like they read our e-mails !!!
  • "is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?"

    Business stopped being that simple, oh...like maybe 1 or 2 thousand years ago.

    Does the phrase 'embrace and extend*' ring a tiny bell?

    No? Try looking at it this way. MS constantly wages FUD. Always - frequently with whatever legal club happens to be within easy reach. Google, on the other hand does things in a rather novel manner (TIC) via the use of something called 'logic'. It's a more mature strategy (
  • ... such as last Friday [pbs.org] - seems he's got this one fairly pegged. Not sure I agree with his ideas about credit agencies etc.

    A free, ad-supported Google cell service with GPhones would be pretty cool for you guys over there, I guess. Some people might be a bit wary of Google's dominance, but I suppose they'll still be blinded by Google's "Do No Evil" to think about how much Google already know/control. From my point of view, I'd just like people to be aware of how powerful they are - I've not made my mind up
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday November 16, 2007 @11:19AM (#21379013) Homepage Journal
    The term "old media" is a semi-ad hominem style attack that I like to use against the previously monopolistic media, mostly TV, radio and newspaper. Yet that term holds true to any company that attempts to use the force of law to keep and protect monopolistic practices in any communications market, including cell phones and land lines.

    Google has proven that the monopoly of distribution can be broken by their network, and their applications. AdSense replaces expensive marketing and advertising departments, Blogger.com replaces the need for physical media and the costs associated. Google Search replaces direct advertising campaigns, and YouTube is trumping the cable networks in giving people a la carte entertainment at a moment's notice. I have high hopes that Google's foray into the wireless market will offer huge gains for those of us who are sick and tired of the old media cell phone technology (locked phones, expensive monthly charges, limited application support, etc).

    As WiFi exploded in use, I continued to be amazed at how relatively unregulated bandwidth worked so well in all the market locales I had WiFi implemented in. Yes, I've heard horror stories by relatively few, but in my office in downtown Chicago, our WiFi network worked seamlessly with dozens of others in the same building. Up to now, I still can't find verifiable proof that other wireless bandwidth segments can't be shared by dozens, or hundreds, of providers in the same vicinity. With the advent of software radios (frequency hopping, output power changes, etc), it seems that the first person to relinquish full control of their bandwidth nation-wide will really hurt the old media strangehold in the wireless market.

    My biggest fear for wireless is the push for more laws to regulate "network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price. It doesn't make sense to me (neither as a businessman, nor as an individual). I'm hoping to see Google offer the bandwidth in markets they can't reach in a relatively unregulated and openly competitive atmosphere. In an adjoining town to mine, Libertyville, Illinois, there are numerous WiFi Internet providers who are doing gangbusters sticking access points on leased towers and giving people in the region what they want (including even free WiFi at a throttled speed) at the price they're willing to pay. The old media companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc) have fought tooth and nail to shut down these hooligans, but the city has held its ground in allowing them to compete. My own town won't allow this to happen (although we do have a bunch of WiFi sharing groups on within 2 blocks of me), so I'd love to see a national push by a major new media company to open bandwidth for all to play with to see what the market can provide with reduced FCC rules created by the old monopolists.

    My big concern is the names Sprint and T-Mobile associated with the post. I use T-Mobile for 60% of my wireless communication (mostly EDGE and voice), and AT&T for the remainder (3G), and while I'm happy, I also use unlocked foreign phones and hardware devices. My friends who use the locally provided versions of the same devices are really unhappy, and don't have anywhere near the amount of customization and freedom that I get by providing my own (expensive) devices.

    I do see a big WMD for the old media ahead, ready to explode. It's called competition, and it will come from all levels: locally, nationally, internationally. I've spent more time on YouTube in the past 2 weeks than watching TV in the past 6 months. I'm prepared with my wallet to pay in advance for broadcasts I like (such as Sanctuary, which I feel isn't there yet), and I can't wait to see what foreigners with a great grasp of English start producing with the technology available. Combine that with a relatively cheap and open range of bandwidth frequencies, and the radio/tv/cell monopolists are dead.

    I can't wait. Who do I write a check to at Google?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by philgross (23409)

      My biggest fear for wireless is the push for more laws to regulate "network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price. It doesn't make sense to me (neither as a businessman, nor as an individual). I'm hoping to see Google offer the bandwidth in markets they can't reach in a relatively unregulated and openly competitive atmosphere. In an adjoining town to mine, Libertyville, Illinois, there are numerous WiFi Internet providers who are doing gangbusters sticking access points on leased towers and giving people in the region what they want (including even free WiFi at a throttled speed) at the price they're willing to pay. The old media companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc) have fought tooth and nail to shut down these hooligans, but the city has held its ground in allowing them to compete. My own town won't allow this to happen (although we do have a bunch of WiFi sharing groups on within 2 blocks of me), so I'd love to see a national push by a major new media company to open bandwidth for all to play with to see what the market can provide with reduced FCC rules created by the old monopolists.

      You do not understand what network neutrality is. The issue is not whether providers can offer can offer different tiers of service for different prices. Of course they can -- they do it now and will continue to do so in the future. The question of network neutrality is whether, after you pay for a certain level of service, the ISP can vary your service based on the destination or content of a given packet. The canonical example is internet service provided by a telco choosing to block or cripple VOIP

      • "..."network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone"

        You do not know what network neutrality is. Neither does whoever moderated you insightful. What you described is not network neutrality, it is anti-neutrality FUD.

        Network neutrality is saying that it's not fair to hold website operators hostage to give prefered "access" to the ISPs customers. The website operator

  • Hey, who announces this business strategy ahead of time anyway? Does Google really think that the reserve price won't be met, and that the incumbent telcos will try to steal the publicly owned airwaves at fire sale prices once the reserve isn't bid in the first round? Is Google only doing this to protect the taxpayer's pocketbooks?

    I'd like to see Google win this. They are the only hope for some serious competition in this consolidating business of access to the InfoBahn (remember that term that once ca

  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday November 16, 2007 @12:15PM (#21379793)
    Google engineers discovered a method to beam computer ads directly to ones visual and auditory cortext via radio waves. All they need now is the spectrum to implement it.
  • Sheesh, are all story capsules this bad? Google wants OPEN Spectrum, which anybody is allowed to resell. So they're actually not working against the carriers, they're working to make sure that all carriers can get a piece of the pie.

    Besides, Google isn't evil. It's part of their corporate charter, so if Google is ever evil, you could sue their officers for malfeasance.

    Good luck defining "evil".
  • 4.6Billlion for a Band is IMHO to little. And my guess is that google will use it in the "Join the gphone movement, get a share of the cake" game agai... ahem with the the providers. What an asset if you want to kill Iphone 2.0.....
  • what are they REALLY going to do with that band? It's a frequency band that can ONLY be used in the US, so it has to be some kind of national service, not a world-wide service.
  • Those of you who have been in a community wifi network or a free software project probably know the liberating force of a free community. It is my belief that when the gov licenses spectrum, it should also license bits of it for gratis (no charge) to a free networking community. By selling only to highest bidders, the gov essentially denies amateurs their right to create useful communication projects for their communities.
  • I can see where this is going:

    - Google telegraphs their upcoming $4.5B bid repeatedly over the internet.

    - Microsoft thinks "whoa, these guys are our biggest competitor and if they get away with it we could be in really big trouble." They then decide to enter a surprise snipe bid of $5B (and probably have more cash reserves than Google, or at least more experience at coming up with it as needed-- Google's may be mostly in stock and take some doing to turn into a check that they can give to the FCC)...

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