Google twists FCC's arm

GCN Insider | Google lobbyists rub FCC members the wrong way

Google presented the government and the wireless industry with a curious ultimatum when it offered to bid $4.6 billion in the upcoming auction of newly available bandwidth in the wireless spectrum, but only if certain conditions requiring open access were placed on the spectrum.

As it turned out, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of two of Google's proposals, requiring those leasing in the spectrum to allow consumers to use whatever wireless devices and software they want on networks. FCC did not go along with Google's proposal that third-party companies have a right to sublease spectrum at wholesale rates.

But what we found interesting was the opposition Google's proposals raised.

Some FCC members were reported to be irritated by the 'arrogance' of Google's lobbyists. After all, where does Google get off telling FCC what to do and influencing it with the prospect of higher revenues from the spectrum auction?

Many of those in the wireless industry were also ticked off by Google's proposal. In a letter to FCC, CTIA, the organization that represents the international wireless telecommunications industry, charged that Google is more interested in securing open-access requirements on the spectrum than in actually winning the license.

Even if true, we're not sure what's wrong with that.

But CTIA's letter went on to argue that, 'If Google is willing to commit almost $5 billion for spectrum that it wants encumbered with various requirements, then let it win that spectrum in a competitive auction and choose that business model.'

This argument kind of misses the point. Yes, Google has selfish interests in seeing that there's more open competition in providing wireless services. The company seems to believe that it can compete effectively in a more open environment. Whether that proves true or not, it strikes us that consumers ' and, ultimately, the wireless industry ' have valid reasons to encourage openness regardless of which company ultimately wins the spectrum lease.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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