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Google Set to Bid $4.6 Billion for Airwaves

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the power-play dept.

Google 156

Nrbelex writes "The Associated Press is reporting that Google has offered to bid at least $4.6 billion on wireless airwaves being auctioned off by the federal government, as long as certain conditions are met. 'The Internet search company wants the Federal Communications Commission to mandate that any winners lease a certain portion of the airwaves to other companies seeking to offer high-speed Internet and other services. Such a provision, Google argues, will give consumers — who traditionally get high-speed Internet access via cable or telephone lines — a third option for service.'" We discussed AT&T's objection to Google's acquisition of these airwaves last week; this article would seem to confirm Ma Bell's worst fears.

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Well that's interesting... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934011)

Google plans on winning, and also wants the winners to be mandated to lease off part of what they win?

Let me know if I read that wrong, but it sounds like Google is morally good.

Re:Well that's interesting... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934085)

it sounds like Google is morally good.
Even if they are not, I am just glad that by 2011 I would be able to get free from the likes of verizon, AT&T and comcast.

Bring it on!!

Cool! I hope they bid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934023)

I would love to see some open spectrum (other than for licensed HAMS). It would be fun to make some new devices to take advantage of the spectrum! That and the signal can bounce off of far more than the Ghz stuff!

Re:Cool! I hope they bid! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934067)

The telcos are not going to let people use the ether for their own experimental ideas.

Like they say, it destroys innovation!

AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz band (5, Informative)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934041)

Actually, as I submitted earlier today, AT&T has reversed it's previous stance, and broken ranks with the other major cellular providers, by endorsing FCC chairman Kevin Martin's plan to require open access to 22Mhz of the 60Mhz to be auctioned by the FCC in the 700Mhz band [rcrnews.com] . This statement prompted Verizon to reiterate their opposition to any open access requirements, and Google to state their wish that the entire 60Mhz be auctioned with open access requirements.

Open access rules would require the auction winner to allow any compatible device to connect to their networks on the effected spectrum.

Why open access? (0)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934153)

I know why we'd want it... but I don't undertsand it enough to know why Google would want it if they bought it.

Why would you plunk down a few billion to buy rights to something you have to let everyone use? I'm sure I'm missing something fundamental

Re:Why open access? (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934237)

Companies would start offering mobile services like the offer web services now... And google would provide the ads for those services. Unlike now where the mobile offerings are largely captive networks.

Re:Why open access? (-1, Troll)

polygamous coward (1127507) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935817)

Very good! One small step for man, and a smaller leap for your mind.

Re:Why open access? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934241)

Why would you plunk down a few billion to buy rights to something you have to let everyone use? I'm sure I'm missing something fundamental

It's making more money by being less evil. If a single company held the spectrum and the equipment to access it, then either they have to be amazingly good at making products that everyone wants, or they cannot maximize their market share. Imagine if the only cellphone in existence was the iPhone. Would you pay $500 for it, or stick to a land line? Now imagine if Cingular only sold iPhones. Those other networks with more choice and cheaper phones suddenly look a lot more attractive, don't they?

Google's position is just the realization of the fact that if they're going to compete against the existing phone companies, they'll make more money by letting anyone and everyone on board, rather than limiting it to a dozen or so devices.

Re:Why open access? (2, Interesting)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934257)

So they're basically buying a new market,and hoping to get enough other folks into to it to attract customers? Expensive and risky... but very cool.

Re:Why open access? (1)

bdjacobson (1094909) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935457)

So they're basically buying a new market,and hoping to get enough other folks into to it to attract customers? Expensive and risky... but very cool.
Worked for Sony just fine with the PS1 and PS2. Make it cheaper, or give incentives, for companies to make devices for it.

But perhaps I'm confused, doesn't this mean Google could start their own cellular service on this frequency? If that's the case then letting anyone make devices for it only makes sense (in exactly the way cheap licensing for the Playstation did to Sony when they were trying the underdog).

Re:Why open access? (3, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935569)

I think you're more likely to see cheap wireless broadband than cellular service. That's not to discount the possibility/probability of VOIP over that broadband service. I simply doubt that the Goog would limit their bandwidth to voice.

open access (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935647)

So they're basically buying a new market,and hoping to get enough other folks into to it to attract customers? Expensive and risky

Because there is demand for those airwaves, it isn't really risky. And if the buyer is required to offer those airwaves to others at wholesale prices, the price for the rights to those frequencies, won't be so high.

Falcon

Re:Why open access? (3, Interesting)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934305)

They want the requirement even if they don't win it, so they're saying we'll bid (and hence the final price might be higher) if you put this clause in the agreement. Google are not going to win the bidding anyway if $4.6 billion is their max bid...

Re:Why open access? (2, Insightful)

frusengladje (990955) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935049)

Actually, it seems to me that if Google gets their way, the telcos would be less interested in bidding, which might actually make the winning bid lower.

Re:Why open access? (2, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934861)

I don't think open access equals free access. You can charge for the bandwidth, but not restrict access to a limited set of services. On the client end, as long as the client complies with your protocol specifications, there are no restrictions on the applications build on them.

Re:Why open access? (4, Informative)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934875)

Google wants it because their services are delivered via the last mile from Verion, Comcast, AT&T, and a few other that essentially controlling Google's destiny. It's related to network neutrality, but only slightly.

Ultimately Google knows that a handful of ISPs control the entire consumer network, and they're trying to poke holes in it to give themselves and others a shot at competing.

Re:Why open access? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935603)

I know why we'd want it... but I don't undertsand it enough to know why Google would want it if they bought it.

Why would you plunk down a few billion to buy rights to something you have to let everyone use? I'm sure I'm missing something fundamental

Because it's another revenue source. Say I own the rights to the airwaves, but you come up with an application or device that uses those airwaves. I lease them to you, so you can run a business with you app or device. I can't do what you're doing, but you're lease payment goes to my bottomline.

Falcon

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (4, Interesting)

notasheep (220779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934163)

"Open access rules would require the auction winner to allow any compatible device to connect to their networks on the effected spectrum."

I think you meant to say that the auction winners would have to lease, at a wholesale price determined by someone, a third of the bandwidth to other service providers that customers would then pay to access the network.

For this to be anything more than just grandstanding for good karma by Google I'd like to see how the wholesale price is set and why it's a lease instead of a purchase. Google pays a one-time fee for the airwaves and then leases them off a third of them which generates a nice revenue stream for them. The people doing the leasing still have a competitive disadvantage since they always have a bandwidth charge to add to their business model, while the purchasers will recoup their original investment over time and not have that leasing charge on their P&Ls.

Google makes me want to Jeeeeeesus (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934393)

Am I the only one that gets a big fat swollen Jesus in my pants at the thought of Google finally becoming evil? Mmmm, I need to go rub out a quick Christ before I get Spirit all over my undies...

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (5, Informative)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934807)

Google's intentions here really are good. The theory is this: Decades ago, AT&T wouldn't let anyone plug anything other than AT&T devices into their lines. It wasn't until this restriction was lifted (which required quite a few years of effort) that fax machines, modems, and many other innovations were able to take place and develop without serious barriers. The wireless spectrum is currently in the same position that landlines were before. No one can "plug" random devices into the wireless spectrum without permission from some company first. Google wants that lifted, and wants the control to be taken away from certain unnamed corporations who have proven they can't be trusted. Opening up the spectrum should enable innovations that aren't even "on the radar" yet. Yes I'm a Google engineer, no this isn't an official response or anything... just another /.er's point of view, but opening up the spectrum is a win for everyone no matter if the final solution is "perfect" or not.
Regards,
Steve

God now supports open access to the universe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935129)

"No one can "plug" random devices into the wireless spectrum without permission from some company first."

Pfft. Have schools stopped teaching physics?

"Opening up the spectrum should enable innovations that aren't even "on the radar" yet."

Hopefully those will obey the laws of physics.

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (2, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935665)

PR Tip, Steve: try to stay away from phrases like, "final solution".

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (1)

old and new again (985238) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935027)

exactly like DSL services on MaBell copper pairs

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935575)

Correct, Ma Bell owns 50% of the ways I can realistically get broadband at my house. If Ma Bell owned these airwaves then they'd own 66% of the ways I can get broadband to my house. The same goes for the cable companies.

Only your competitor's networks should be open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934223)

So AT&T is reversing course because they fear that Google will buy up the spectrum and become an ISP (it's a logical extension of Google's services)? Obviously, they didn't want to have to allow a Google device onto their networks, but they would want to be able to sell an AT&T device that'd go on Google's network?

At least, that's what I read into their moves, but I might be missing something here.

Well, not quite (5, Insightful)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934433)

The basic requests that Google, ebay, etc made were:

1. Users can use any device to access the network
2. Users can run any software they'd like to run
3. The network interconnects with the internet
4. The network operators lease bandwidth to 3rd party companies

The draft proposal that the FCC chief published (and that AT&T just agreed with) protects the first 2 of those rules, but not the last 2.

The impetus for Google to front this money was the Telecoms lobbying the FCC with the argument that requiring openness will reduce the value of the spectrum and thus reduce the Governments take. By fronting this money, Google negates that argument. They'll only bid if these rules are established, and the Gov't will almost certainly make more money with Google bidding than with them sitting out.

Suddenly the FCC is left with very little reason to oppose openness. This, in my opinion, removes the political cover that he'd need. It's a game changer and a genius play by Google.

Re:AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz ba (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935015)

Open access rules would require the auction winner to allow any compatible device to connect to their networks on the effected spectrum.

affected

Obligatory (-1, Troll)

Fedorpheux (912926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934051)

Can you Google me now?

Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934069)

So are all of you Slashdotters who rallied behind the "do no evil" mantra going to apologize to all of us now? I told you Google was trouble from the very start. This is complete confirmation of that. Not to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Re:Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934103)

Yes, anonymous coward, you've taken many bold stances over the years. However, this act is still not inherently evil or good; it's just google buying up some of the spectrum. And that's after they've petitioned for rules requiring certain parts to be open. Those bastards!

Re:Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934171)

the very act of SELLING *our* spectrum is the problem, genius.

the spectrum is like the air, it's as much mine as it is yours, and if the government wants to give control of something like that to any corporation is a problem with a LOT of us cowards who would like to remain (as) anonymous (as one can.)

Re:Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934281)

You are right and I agree with you. However, this is unfortunately the way things are right now. The fact that Google is willing to use their earnings to try and open this for more than a few is definitely a good thing. As much as it actually sucks.

Re:Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934129)

I told you Google was trouble from the very start. This is complete confirmation of that.

Liar! No AC has ever said such a stupid thing.

Re:Et Tu, Google, mon dieu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19934801)

you've also mixed latin and french.

Explain this "innovation" to me... (2, Interesting)

Renaissance 2K (773059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934137)

Though this may sound sarcastic, I'm asking an honest question.

Why would a closed spectrum discourage innovation? I would think not forcing people to "lease" portions of the spectrum to higher powers would curb the high cost that hinders most of the world's greatest minds.

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (4, Informative)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934285)

Google's trying to make it so that whoever gets the spectrum has a certain price they can't charge above for leasing the spectrum. As it stands now, whoever gets the spectrum can charge whatever they want, or just block someone completely. Right now, the entry barrier is so high that it's almost impossible for smaller companies to get any slice of the spectrum. If Google gets its way, the entry barrier will be much lower, but still there.

Explain this "cooperation" to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19934953)

"Google's trying to make it so that whoever gets the spectrum has a certain price they can't charge above for leasing the spectrum. As it stands now, whoever gets the spectrum can charge whatever they want, or just block someone completely."

Except no one charges whatever they want. They charge what the market will bear, and in the case of telecommunications, what the government will let them.

"Right now, the entry barrier is so high that it's almost impossible for smaller companies to get any slice of the spectrum. If Google gets its way, the entry barrier will be much lower, but still there."

Most entities band together when they want to achieve something bigger than themselves. The fact they can't cooperate isn't the fault of the market. The only thing Google's move does is eliminate the need for cooperation.

Re:Explain this "cooperation" to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935265)

Ah, what the market will bear! What a wonderful thought! Except if they own the spectrum without regulations, they don't actually have to share, and unfortunately, this is a very big (but limitted) resource.

Well, maybe they have to like you first. And you better not be looking competitive, or you'll have to pay more. If you are actually competitive, well then so long johnny-boy!

None of this ever happened with government subsidized phone lines, before.

Now the *public* already owns this resource via a the government...why in the heck would you want to make your situation worse??? Wouldn't you be looking for the *best* way to use your resource? It's like selling trees on your land, but instead of *demanding* you be paid half the long term value.

You'd have to be brain-damaged to do something so stupid, or shilling for the logging company.

So which is it in your case?

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (5, Insightful)

DaftShadow (548731) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934589)

It relates to access.

The reason that we don't have a lot of competition in the Cable TV realm is because the Cable companies own all the cables that they install. They are not required to let another cable network use those wires. DirectTV competes by totally bypassing the cable wires.

Wireless companies and the major internet providers have much the same stranglehold over broadband & cell phones. Because they install the Last Mile hardware (wired and wireless), they own it, and there is no legal requirements that they allow competitors to truly use it. So their competitors are forced to gather a lot of funds and create a secondary network. That's a high barrier to entry, and means that anyone who wants to get involved is in for one helluva challenge.

The above is what happens in a closed system. Because there are such a limited number of closed systems available, when they are all owned, the resources are literally unavailable to any future entrepreneurs that wish to compete.

The idea behind a fully open spectrum that interfaces with the internet is that we can make available (essentially For Cost) a competitive set of access capabilities. So instead of people being forced to use the closed-access spectrums, entrepreneurs are legally allowed to compete without being blocked in any way! This will allow of number of potentially awesome things to take place for both consumers and competitive businesses.

As a consumer, I want this because I dream that one day soon I can buy a linux smartphone that surfs the web, plays music, and connects to any of the major competitive cell-phone companies without requiring a subscription term or early cancellation fee of any kind. Entrepreneurs want this because the Wireless companies have huge profit-margins and high costs, and are ripe to be undercut and turned in a commodity market. Entrepreneurs (and consumers) also want this because they are sick and tired of dealing directly with the wireless companies in order sell their content. Google wants this because then they can work out deals with growing wireless telco's to sell targeted advertising.

I haven't even begun to get into the ramifications for Broadband service! Let's just say that everything good I said about Wireless, multiply that 3x and you're just scratching the surface for what this will help create in the ISP sector.

This is an opportunity to force the giant telco's, ISP's, and wireless providers to start playing fair for everyone. If they aren't up to the task, than they can close up shop while their new competitors provide better service and better prices to us, the consumers.

- DaftShadow

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (2, Interesting)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934691)

Because they install the Last Mile hardware (wired and wireless), they own it, and there is no legal requirements that they allow competitors to truly use it.

I though the US had Local Loop Unbundling? Or is the FCC not in the habit of enforcing a competitive market?

As a consumer, I want this because I dream that one day soon I can buy a linux smartphone that surfs the web, plays music, and connects to any of the major competitive cell-phone companies without requiring a subscription term or early cancellation fee of any kind.

Why can't you just buy & use an OpenMoko now? Can't you just get a SIM card for it or is the US telcom market seriously screwed up?

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19934873)

Why can't you just buy & use an OpenMoko now? Can't you just get a SIM card for it or is the US telcom market seriously screwed up?

The US telcom market is seriously screwed up. If you can convince a telco to let you have a SIM card, you're still going to being paying through the nose, as the plan you get will cost just as much as those that subsidize new phones.

Even though it's stuck on a single network, the iPhone does have the plus that service and equipment costs are assigned to the proper categories, which is why the iPhone data plan is a mere $20/month rather than $40+ like almost every other smart phone. Minor minor victory, but it's something at least in the battle against phone companies!

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (2, Informative)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934987)

I though the US had Local Loop Unbundling? Or is the FCC not in the habit of enforcing a competitive market?

Well, the fact that AT&T has basically reassembled itself after being broken up a few decades ago should be proof enough that no, they're not in the habit of enforcing a competitive market.

However yes, at the moment we still have local loop unbundling and a number of other things that allow some competition over phone lines. It's why you can get your DSL from companies like Earthlink instead of your phone company. That is not true of wireless. Nor, by recent FCC decision, will it be the case for fiber lines, which is why the phone companies are suddenly so gung-ho on building out their fiber networks when they sat on their hands for years. It's also undoubtedly why so many of them are cutting your copper when they install fiber; with a quick snip, they eliminate all competition for Internet services on their lines.

The remaining competition for Internet access is via different media: Cable (which the cable companies need not share), and wireless/satellite, which nobody needs to share. At least not yet.

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (1)

hob42 (41735) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935443)

It's why you can get your DSL from companies like Earthlink instead of your phone company.

Unless you let the telco install fiber to the curb... now they don't have any copper to lease, and you're locked in once again.

Re:Explain this "innovation" to me... (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935733)

Why would a closed spectrum discourage innovation?

As someone else already answered, because it prevents others from creating things. If Ma Bell hadn't been required to allow devices other than their own, there wouldn't of been answering machines, faxes, or modems, and yes, I recall when 1200, heck, 300 baud modems were considered fast.

Falcon

Isn't it great (5, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934167)

I love you how can buy segments of the light spectrum like that.

you think if I offered the FCC $50 they'd sell me the blue?

Re:Isn't it great (3, Funny)

louks (1075763) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934435)

you think if I offered the FCC $50 they'd sell me the blue?
Oh, that's not the FCC, That's http://www.pantone.com/ [pantone.com] .

It's based on the utterly false... (3, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934531)

assumptions that

1) Maximizing US Federal Government revenue is equivalent to maximizing public good.
2) That airwaves, which by natural law are a shared public resource, can somehow be auctioned/sold.

It is the modern equivalent of the English Enclosure movement. [everything2.com]

Re:It's based on the utterly false... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934547)

It is the modern equivalent of the English Enclosure movement.

Or manifest destiny.

It's based on the utterly false post. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935035)

"2) That airwaves, which by natural law are a shared public resource, can somehow be auctioned/sold."

So are property rights. I don't see you complaining about those.

BTW I'd be careful about using the natural law [wikipedia.org] defense.

Re:It's based on the utterly false post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935753)

So are property rights. I don't see you complaining about those.
"Property rights" are neither shared nor public nor a resource. Did you perhaps mean "land"? Can you think of the important difference between land and airwaves that invalidates your argument?

Re:It's based on the utterly false... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935169)

1) Maximizing US Federal Government revenue is equivalent to maximizing public good.

Dubious assumption indeed.

2) That airwaves, which by natural law are a shared public resource, can somehow be auctioned/sold.

Reasonable assumption.

It is the modern equivalent of the English Enclosure movement.

With one key difference, they're paying for the airwaves used. As far as I can tell, the common lands were given away in England with the wealthy being heavily favored. Further, I don't think natural law applies here. The US government has been delegated the authority to decide how this bit of spectrum is used. An auction is a fair and economically efficient way to allot it. And it's clear that whatever use the spectrum will be put to is better than it is currently.

Re:Isn't it great (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934741)

you think if I offered the FCC $50 they'd sell me the blue?

They would at first, but would quickly recant and reverse course after protest from the Hooloovoo [wikipedia.org] Ambassador...

Re:Isn't it great (1)

RancidMilk (872628) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935025)

"you think if I offered the FCC $50 they'd sell me the blue?"

No. They traded me blue for my first born.

Re:Isn't it great (1)

kc32 (879357) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935337)

No, Sony already owns it.

ATT's Worst Fear. (4, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934175)

A well funded competitor.

Reminds me of Alien vs. Predator. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934431)

Whoever wins... we lose.

I'm not convinced (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934601)

$4.5B can win it ... With all the potential this band has, that might just be a piss in the lake compared to what a big telcom might throw at it.

Re:I'm not convinced (3, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935003)

At the end of 2006, Google had about $11.2B cash on hand according to their 10K filings. As of the end of last March (after the BellSouth acquisition), AT&T reports $2.3B in "cash and cash equivalents", and only $24.5B in "total current assets". I'm no broker, but it sure looks to me like Google is in the same league as the telcos.

Fixed! (1)

Verte (1053342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934231)

In a statement Thursday, Jim Cicconi, AT&&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, said Mr. Martin's proposal was an "interesting and creative balance" that would not change the business models of AT&T and others. He said consumers would now have to "put up or shut up."

here we go again (3, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934233)

Well, there goes their Q3 earnings, too.

Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.... (1, Insightful)

Kickstart70 (531316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934317)

...should be peeing their pants right now. Whoever wins, this will dramatically alter the landscape of broadband access. FWIW, given the horrible customer service records of all the other players, I hope Google comes out ahead. One note though, why is it so common for government agencies to give massive-scale abilities and income to other large companies through policies such as this, but when it comes to a tech company like Google venturing into that scale everyone gets nervous? Shouldn't people be much, much more nervous about large-scale deal such as those done with ClearChannel, Halliburton, or even that company that runs most of the prisons in the US?

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (3, Informative)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934403)

Because companies like AT&T and Haliburton either are presently, or have been in the past run by people who were high up in the government tree at one point (or vice-versa). Dick Cheney left Haliburton in 2000 to become Goerge'e Bushes mate. It's not about companies, it's who runs them and who's connected.. they're all buddies and pals and I bet Google isn't friends with any of them and they're scared.

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934487)

and I bet Google isn't friends with any of them

Yet. Google will eventually be subverted and have to play by the old-boy rules.

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935225)

Probably. Google's been unique in both its hiring practices, and business model which is heavily based on a perception of not being part of the old-boys club. It won't prevent them from joining such, but it should act as a painful barrier to contemplate walking through.

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (1)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934511)

should be peeing their pants right now
and probably have been for some time now. The world is a rapidly changing place and (imho) I think we are beginning to see the virtualisation of real life. It will not be long before you'll see virtual graffiti daubed along the back alleys, characters from some MMORPG scurrying around your local church while 'old skool' religious types pray to someone who exanguinates, where the most valuable commercial real estate is not where people have time to shop but where people have time to browse. The wireless world is inevitable. For your regular consumer, selling bits through cable will be as relevant as pressing music on vinyl. Of course those who are anchored to their wires are scared and fighting their corner. Their end is nigh.

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934725)

Well, cable is not going to sit around waiting for the ax to fall. DOCSIS 3.0 is ratified, products are going to be introduced next year (this fall in some markets), and will be very competitive with fiber to the home when it comes to speed.

And the phone companies aren't going to be waiting, either. All the RBOCS are planning FTTH, or at least FTTC (fiber to the curb), and Verizon WILL go national with their fiber network at some point (although it could be years before it gets to your house).

Sadly, we'll also see BPL sometime down the road. I say sadly because it will cause major interference in the short wave bands just when the SW broadcasters are starting to play with DRM (digital radio mondaile, not the other kind), and the FCC dropped the code requirement for HAM operators. Of course, BPL is not anywhere near as fast as the other options, but it has the benefit of being potentially available to just about every house in the US.

The wireless guys won't go without a major fight, and I'm sure they'll agree to anything the FCC wants. Just wait until after the auction to see all these new unlocked devices in the store. Does anyone really think Qualcomm will introduce a device that Verizon doesn't want on it's network?

Re:Anyone entrenched in cable or land-line phone.. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935083)

Wireless is OK, but I don't think you will ever see it compete with land lines for high end bandwidth capability like IPTV or P2P. What I think the Google offer means is the end of walled garden networks for VOIP and other low to mid bandwidth WiFi applications.

The cash offer is just a PR stunt. (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934517)

A worse chunk of airwave spectrum went for over 13 Billion dollars in a previous auction. Google offering 4.6 Billion would be like me offering 4500 dollars for a brand new car that is probably worth over 20K.

That said, It would be much better for google to win this than almost anyone else. At least I'm confident they won't waste the technological potential.

Re:The cash offer is just a PR stunt. (1)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934629)

Both the summary and the article said "at least" 4.6 billion. Learn to read.

Re:The cash offer is just a PR stunt. (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934829)

$13B sounds like about how much cash Apple has on hand....and Google too.

Re:The cash offer is just a PR stunt. (3, Informative)

FreeKill (1020271) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934909)

The article says that they offered the 4.6 Billion as a first offer because the FCC has said that they need to meet 4.6 at least. This is basically saying, no matter what, you will meet your minimum, so how about considering some of our stipulations because of the nice thing we did just there...

Re:The cash offer is just a PR stunt. (1)

bdjacobson (1094909) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935485)

The article says that they offered the 4.6 Billion as a first offer because the FCC has said that they need to meet 4.6 at least. This is basically saying, no matter what, you will meet your minimum, so how about considering some of our stipulations because of the nice thing we did just there...
Actually, it's saying, no matter what you'll meet your minimum, as long as you play by our rules.*

(*)Play by our rules-- keep the market fair.

It's not like they're asking all that much from the FCC in return. Just that ATT or whoever can't control all of it.

4.5bi for airwaves, but how much already spent on (1)

Via_Patrino (702161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934603)

4.5bi for airwaves, so I wonder how much they already spent on dark fibers and what they bought with all that money.

There is already a third option... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19934619)

...for internet access through the EVDO network of Sprint. The EVDO network is a bit pricey at $50-60 monthly ($30 if your a close friends with a Sprint employee). If you want something in the flavor of 4G then the upcoming WiMax network of Sprint/Clearwire promises to bring down that $50-$60 cost and allow more types of devices(camera/MP3 players/ etc) to connect to the network.

do no evil? (1)

j1mmy (43634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19934677)

I thought Google's mantra was "Do no evil."

How is seeking government regulation to strengthen a particular company's ability to do business not evil?

Re:do no evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19934753)

you make an assumption that i'm not sure everyone would agree with. how is it evil?

Re:do no evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19934777)

Seeking "regulation to strengthen a particular company's ability to do business" is evil, and that's precisely what the telocs want to do.

It's the choice between regulation of a single owner of the airwaves, vs. regulation that there must be a marketplace.

So unless you have a very twisted fear of the marketplace, like the wireless companies, Google's behaving saintly here.

Re:do no evil? (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934867)

It isn't. But seeking government regulation to allow all companies big and small to do business on an equal playing field is not evil. Actually, it's what the government is SUPPOSED to do in a market economy.

Re:do no evil? (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934877)

They aren't being evil. The FCC's concern was that the FCC wouldn't make any money by opening the spectrum according to what Google, Ebay, and others wanted (which is a low maximum on what can be charged for the spectrum, allowing smaller companies to innovate), so Google stepped up and said "We've got money. We guarantee you that you'll get at least 4.6 billion from us if you open up the spectrum"
Regards,
Steve

I welcome our google overlords (4, Interesting)

phreaki (725521) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934735)

As a person with a vested interest in a large Wifi/900/5ghz system that has many pleased users, I welcome Google and their stance. We'd love to lease bandwidth and open devices, as the 700mhz would allow us to penetrate in places unthinkable until now, with power that would make you shiver. I'd imagine Ubiquiti's frequency freedom would scale nice, with the addition of some wattage. I'm not happy to see AT&T taking over yet another town, charging $70 a month for GSM coverage, using technology only they will sanction. I'm all for Google setting base rules to how the radios will share the airtime, and if someone wants to use a different modulation supported in a software radio they've installed, it's kosher with them. In any case, 700mhz should afford at least 2megabit imho, even more in the future, and with the mhz available, possibly 20-30megabit. I don't want to see this in the hands of someone who just wants to sell data plans, it's much better in the hands of someone who wants to show ads, and let other people sell the service. I'm all for the open system, just like local competition in DSL is allowed, so Google is important, but dispensable, as the most desirable element is the reselling of the service. I for one know, my customers will choose us over Google, Cingular, Sprint, Nextel, or Verizon.

Re:I welcome our google overlords (2, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934957)

"penetrate in places unthinkable until now, with power that would make you shiver."

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

I can't wate to use that phrase on my wife.

Re:I welcome our google overlords (2, Funny)

phreaki (725521) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935073)

I'm a filthy erotic poetry writer, Snow White and the Sub Gigahertz Dwarves.

Natural Resouces (1)

Aetuneo (1130295) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934889)

Am I the only one who's worried, and a bit disturbed, that the government is auctioning a natural resource, without being required to have all taxpayers vote on it? I'm sure that many people would like to have a completely free spectrum, which anyone could use for their devices. But it's been like this too long for people to remember that it used to be different, after all. Such a pity ... How long will it be between travel to other worlds becoming viable/cheap and governments claiming entire worlds and auctioning them off to the highest bidder? (Disclaimer: I dislike most governments, and believe that communism would be viable, with enough effort)

Re:Natural Resouces (1)

jmatthew3 (100802) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934977)

Although it might worry you, it's been going on for quite a long time.

The government granted / sold middle america to settling european immigrants. The government auctions land in the gulf of mexico to oil companies, then distributes part of the money to the states around the gulf. Also, the government grants limited monopolies to creators of works (copyright law) and inventors of useful works (patents).

We gave certain authority to the government when we adopted the constitution.

Re:Natural Resouces (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935319)

Am I the only one who's worried, and a bit disturbed, that the government is auctioning a natural resource, without being required to have all taxpayers vote on it?

Which country you from? Tax payers don't vote on stuff like this. There's not even a system for collecting such a vote. While some States have such systems, "voter initiatives" or "proposition systems," like California, there is no analogous Federal system.

C//

Wholesale price? (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934941)

Unlike cable or phone lines, there is no cost to maintain and expand airwaves. What would this wholesale price be? If its a % of whatever the winning bid is, then it doesnt matter how much you bid, your pretty much garunteed to make it back via leasing alone. If its like 5000 bucks a year for a small slice, that might be a different story. Who determines the wholesale price? Will it change each year? Will it be the same if the winning bid is 10 billion or 100 billion? All important questions that lawmakers need to take into consideration.

Better Google than anyone else (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19934993)

Hell, sure better not at&crap. They have been trying every kind of barely legal trick to monopolize and control entire united states's information for over 1.5 years now.

LEO Satellite (1)

ArkiMage (578981) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935039)

It doesn't look like anyone else is every going to do it so I wish Google would. Launch a fleet of LEO satellites for global high-speed internet access. Unlike geosynchronous satellites some folks use for this now the latency would be very low for LEOs.

LEO = Low Earth Orbit, ~200mi up versus ~26,000mi up for geosynchronous ones.

Skip 700Mhz and go for true global coverage instead.

Re:LEO Satellite (1)

Alascom (95042) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935587)

Already exists, its called Iridium. I was an engineer at Iridium when we launched all our satellites. Originally slated for 77 (hence Iridium) but later dropped to 72 satellites, organized in 11 orbital paths with 10 satellites in each orbit (9 active, 1 spare).

I also was the very first person to establish a PPP connection over an Iridium satellite, at a phenomenal 4.2kbps speed. The problem was that it cost 6 billion dollars to deploy, but by the time we had it up and running cellular phones had pretty much covered all the habitable regions of the planet, so the only people willing to pay were sailors and oil exploration companies.

Iridium eventually went into bankruptcy but its still running today.. If you like the idea of a fleet of LEO satellites for internet access, go for it. As for me, it was a phenomenal idea that came a decade too late.

Down with the telecom companies (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935065)

Honestly, Ma Bell, Verizon and all their counterparts need to go. If they were smart they should have started dropping telephone service a few years ago and offer only broadband access and cell phone service, and just give the land line business to voip firms like Vonage and such. Now telcos want to try and control how fast certain pages load when fees aren't paid.

Re:Down with the telecom companies (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935583)

Problem is that today the telephone subsidizes the Internet connectivity. If you were paying the full cost of your DSL connection it would likely be $60-70 a month instead of $14.95. The $14.95 is a grab for market share and little else, but it is supported because of the people paying for long distance.

Should the telecom companies decide that nothing is left except IP connections, my guess is that we are going to see the same players just continue on. There would likely be some "consolidation" ... to the point that there would be only one. There isn't enough money in IP service to support all there is today.

I'm willing to bid as well (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935067)

Google has offered to bid at least $4.6 billion on wireless airwaves being auctioned off by the federal government, as long as certain conditions are met.
Well I'm willing to bid $100 Billion dollars, as long as certain conditions are met. Namely, I receive a $99.99 Billion tax refund to "develop my new wireless business". Google's promise to bid raises the floor for the spectrum auction, but is just about as self-serving. In the end, consumers will pay no matter what the rules are. As long as they're naming their own conditions, you can bet on that.

Interesting factiod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19935185)

I talked with a (what seemed like) a pretty clued in Google employee before the quarterly earnings report was published.

I joking if Google was going to to stop throwing darts at list of start ups to pick acquisitions, and he actually mentioned that Google would very soon be scaling down both hiring and acquisitions, and instead focusing on developing new software internally.

Maybe he was just so flustered I discovered their internal corporate policy that automatically spit out their cover story, because this seems to violate their alleged "don't buy stupid shit" policy. Within a couple years, WiMax will be in full force. Within 5 years, we'll probably have found that wifi distances are bound my Moore's law and some sort of ubiquitous city wide wifi solution be available.

Topic is misleading... (1)

mk_is_here (912747) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935199)

At the first scan of the topic I thoguht Google was going to invade the chewing gum business...

"Ma Bell" (3, Funny)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935219)

this article would seem to confirm Ma Bell's worst fears
I find it hard to call AT&T "Ma Bell" anymore. Southern Bell Corporation purchased AT&T, then took the name. In other words, one of the "baby bells" grew up and ate it's mother. Then stuck her logo on his forehead. Hence the current AT&T isn't really "Ma Bell" it's some weird and pretty ironic freak of nature.

Just nitpicking.

Re:"Ma Bell" (1)

Hal9000_sn3 (707590) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935803)

Wrong kid. It was Southwestern Bell that purchased AT&T.
Just nitpicking your nitpick.

A Third Option?! (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935235)

Such a provision, Google argues, will give consumers -- who traditionally get high-speed Internet access via cable or telephone lines -- a third option for service.
And per usual, absolutely no concern for those of us "too far out" for any kind of high-speed internet. Satellite is a joke (crap uploads and bandwidth limits) but it's better than the 24.6kbps modem connections around here. Honestly, who cares about choice when the masses don't even have the luxury of being tied down to a monopoly? The state of broadband in America is pathetic and it's because no one wants to put the effort into expanding it (and their eventual profits). Oh how short-sighted money makes us.

Re:A Third Option?! (3, Insightful)

maximander (806231) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935371)

Calculate the amount you'll pay them per month, the amount that they get in profit and then the cost of build out. Then figure out how long it takes to realize those "eventual" profits. It just doesn't make business sense sometimes. Now, if we want to say, that rather than being purely profit driven, it should be seen as some kind of right or necessity for the overall good, then that sounds like the time for government to subsidize it into making business sense.

Quick example: We all used to drive down roads just fine, but now that most places have cell phones, "dead zones" are considered a safety hazard when people can't call for help (Economist, July 12th 2007 [economist.com] ). Now if it really is a matter of public safety, why not subsidize the special cases where it is in the public interest to have another tower installed?

Now another option would be to make it a requirement on the licensing of the spectrum (i.e part of the business cost, so companies can factor it into the profitability equation when they make the decision), but I don't see why, for instace in your DSL example, I should pay more for the 974 feet to my urban Point-of-Presence to support the installation of an extra long run and repeaters for your DSL. It would seem to me that that really is just part of your cost-of-living, just like paying higher San Francisco rents is part of mine.

What would be nice... (1)

9Nails (634052) | more than 6 years ago | (#19935321)

I think it would be nice if Google buys the spectrum and turns it over to the public. They provide specifications for the use of the airways which they sell licenses to hardware manufactures. And a Gnuetella-like or the "Google-IP" network is born without the need for tele-com or other carriers. All these devices connect together to route traffic between each other. Each user of the network in essence carries its signal to the other users. They could create a free Internet in the true meaning of the words.
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