Google Phone Is Coming: Google Says It Will Invest 4.6 Billion To Aquire Wireless Frequencies

Google has announced that it will invest 4.6 billion dollars to acquire radio frequencies being abandoned by television broadcasts as they turn digital. The frequencies could be used to provide wireless phone and data services.

One caveat: Google is demanding that the FCC make the companies that invest in the new spectrum make products that are open and consumer friendly. From the Boston Globe:

In a letter delivered yesterday to the FCC, Google said it would participate in the wireless spectrum auction if the agency agrees to proposals to ensure open access to wireless networks. Under the Google plan, any company could make hardware and software products that would work on the network and consumers would be free to buy and use these products. In addition, Google wants the FCC to require that network owners offer wholesale access rates to smaller communications firms, which would then be able to resell access to the network. Google also wants a requirement that the network be designed so that any other communications service can easily connect to it.

Google said it is prepared to bid at least $4.6 billion for a slice of the radio spectrum. That could establish Google, now a giant of the Internet, as a major provider of telecom services.

What does this mean for you? If Google is successful, the way you think of your cellphone could change. An open network would mean your phone would be more like your TV or your computer—a device that you can take to whatever telecom company you want… with an open network, Verizon (for example) couldn’t stop you from downloading Google software (for example) and using it on your phone. This could, in essence, turn every phone on the network into a Google phone.

From the New York TImes:

“When you go to Best Buy to buy a TV, they don’t ask whether you have cable or satellite,” said Blair Levin, a former F.C.C. official who is now an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Company. “When you buy a computer, they don’t ask what kind of Internet service you have, and the computer can run any application or service. That doesn’t exist in the wireless world. That’s where Google wants to go with this auction.”

Google has already invested millions of dollars in mobile phone technology, in part, to develop a comprehensive set of software for mobile devices that goes well beyond the mobile search and map services it already offers.

The company has been characteristically circumspect about its mobile plans, and just this week, Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, deflected questions from an analyst about plans for a mobile phone. “We have looked pretty carefully at wireless and are thinking about what we want to do there,” Mr. Schmidt said.

“I want people to have the choice to use our service,” said Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google. “That is something that I fear won’t exist in this space.”

Verizon says an open network is “corporate welfare for Google.” Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

Google Pushes for Rules to Aid Wireless Plans [NYT]
Google aims to boost wireless competition [Boston Globe]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mkguitar says:

    Of interest to Musicians is the fact that the entire frequency spectrum used by our wireless microphones, instruments, ear monitors etc. is included as part of the frequency range the FCC wants to sell off.

    If you like live music,or any other use of wireless mics (like theater, church, political speeches, public events) you need to contact your rep and ask them to support H.R. 1320. Detailed info on the Grammy website under advocacy.

  2. The Reviewer says:

    What I don’t get about this, is google says they are going to bid, if the FCC does this.

    Wouldn’t they just tell google to fuck off. Why do they care if google or someone else bids, unless it’s more money than anyone else is offering, and I bet AT&T would put up that much to make it a closed network.

    I guess I need someone to explain to me how or why google gets to say how the network would be used, just to bid on being able to use the network.

  3. lhm says:


    Something not on the list that should be is ADA-compliant, which the iPhone isn’t.

    The American Council of the Blind looked into suing Google because their software required visual passkeys that the visually impaired couldn’t use.

    Google has this habit of putting out software and then making it ADA compliant after the fact. Apple is so barely ADA-compliant, most people who need speech software go with PCs.

  4. azntg says:

    @lhm: Money talks and it walks too! But then, maybe you’re right, I think the FCC has been traditionally one of the more stronger regulatory agency we have so far.

  5. TechnoDestructo says:

    I don’t think giving their competitors notice of how much they intend to bid and thus giving them time to secure financing above that is the best idea.

    Unless they’re going to bid MORE.

  6. clarient says:

    Tentatively, this sounds okay to me. The comparison between phones and other electronics certainly strikes a chord.

  7. Televiper says:

    Google has every right to petition the government to setup conditions for their bid. The government may simply tell Google no. Google has the money and the clout to do this. The FCC could rest a little easier if there was another major player in the wireless market.

  8. Televiper says:


    This isn’t an EBay auction. Companies aren’t simply bidding against how much money they have in the bank. They’re making an investment. They have to make money off this stuff in the end. I believe FCC regulations also stipulate that they have to use it.

  9. allstarecho says:

    mkguitar: Of interest to Musicians is the fact that the entire frequency spectrum used by our wireless microphones, instruments, ear monitors etc. is included as part of the frequency range the FCC wants to sell off.

    Err, that really sucks.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    Simply awesome. Can’t imagine how, even if Google completely blows it (unlikely), they’ll end up with a worse service than what the telecoms offer. No wonder they’re trembling.

  11. Melov says:

    I’ll make the switch faster than a mac faggot

  12. Wormfather says:

    @The Reviewer: Remember this is the FCC we’re talking about here. The ones who’ll fine a TV station for saying the f word.

    What does my comment have to do with yours, nothing actually.