Politicos Feel Used by Google in Spectrum Auction

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-04-16 Print this article Print


U.S. representatives feel that they let Google manipulate the 700MHz spectrum auction.

Electronista and other blogs are reporting that three U.S. representatives lamented the fact that Google bid for 700MHz spectrum to ensure the winner must open up access to all devices and applications.

Republicans Cliff Stearns and John Shimkus and Democrat Eliot Engel complained in a hearing on Capitol Hill that Google's $4.6 billion bid for spectrum deterred other bidders.

"I suspect that if Google had been interested in more than just maneuvering within the system it could have prevailed in the C block and become a new [wireless] entrant. I suppose we cannot blame them for trying to get free access to the spectrum; what is more concerning is that, even though we knew what they were doing, we let them maneuver this way anyway," said Stearns, R-Fla.

This is a strange complaint. Stearns feels the government was used by Google to loosen up the rules around spectrum access.

So what? What Google did, which it doesn't deny, was a good thing. If spectrum access was freed up in the first place, perhaps Google wouldn't have to effect change in the auction. Moreover, Google was prepared to purchase the spectrum, so it wasn't going to be a deadbeat.

Google told me this in response, and I agree: "Consumers were the big winner in the auction, not any company. This auction generated not only a record amount for the U.S. treasury, but also historic new rights for wireless consumers as a direct result of Google's bidding."

Don't enable free competition, which is a banner of capitalism, and then complain about the way in which it was provided. It's a petty argument reserved for traditionalists who grudgingly grant change only to act like a sore loser after the fact.

Don't make Google the bully when the FCC typically bullies every company that needs something from them. If there are any bullies here, they are Verizon or AT&T, which initially opposed Google bidding for spectrum to preserve their fragile markets.

Shame on you for tainting a democratic process. And if the majority of House reps really feel like they were slighted, they need to lobby for restrictions in the auction process.


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