Verizon Wireless was the darling of the Federal Communications Commission’s recently concluded 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction, winning six licenses to provide wireless broadband nationally in the most valuable C block of the spectrum.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Google didn’t win a single license and so won’t be shelling out any of the $19.6 billion the bidders raised for the auction.
But Google posted its own victory because it altered the process, letting the phone carriers know that they’re not going to control every aspect of wireless markets.
Google, which said in 2007 it would bid up to $4.6 billion for C block spectrum, last year lobbied to let consumers use any applications; any device on a any network; open services; and open networks.
The FCC met Google halfway, placing conditions on the sale of the C block spectrum that required the winning bidder to build an open network to which users can connect any legal device and run the applications of their choice.
So, though Verizon conquered the C block, it must allow devices and applications from other companies to use it. What does Google get from this?
Google’s mission is to reach consumers on as many devices as possible with its search and other applications through its Android mobile operating system and other platforms. These efforts all bolster Google’s mobile online ad opportunities. The previous FCC auctions stipulations stood to put a crimp in its wireless ambitions.
By getting the FCC to loosen up its rules, the company not only ensured its own freedom in the mobile space going forward, but the freedom of Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and any vendor looking to capitalize on mobile search and online advertising.
Google may not have won spectrum, but it secured some freedom in the process and didn’t spend a dime to do it. That’s a win-win in my opinion.