Google has announced that it is going to participate in an upcoming auction for wireless spectrum.
The company is doing so because it thinks that, in the U.S., the portion of the wireless spectrum for mobile phones and data is controlled by too small a group of companies, leaving consumers with very few service providers from which to choose.
Google will take part in the Federal Communication Commission's auction for spectrum in the 700 MHz band only if this government agency agrees to four conditions that the company believes will lead to greater choice for consumers.
What it wants is for the FCC to adopt rules that ensure that, regardless of who wins the spectrum at auction, consumers' interests are served. Specifically, Google encouraged the FCC to require the adoption of four types of "open" platforms as part of the license conditions:
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 any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.
Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
Google requested these conditions on the auction earlier this month, but the FCC has so far been ambivalent. Its conditions for the auction make a mention of "open access", this isn't backed up by definite rules on this subject
In hopes of getting the FCC to agree with what it wants, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt has sent a letter to Kevin J. Martin, Chairman of the FCC, that says, "should the Commission expressly adopt the four license conditions requested in our July 9th letter " with specific, enforceable, and enduring rules " Google intends to commit a minimum of $4.6 billion to bidding in the upcoming auction. "