March 20, 2008 |
The big winner of the 700 Mhz spectrum auction has been announced, and the big surprise for some is that it wasn't won by Google. Instead, Verizon Wireless is the new owner of the spectrum, auctioned off by the Feds over the last few weeks. Some Internet pundits are saying that Verizon was tricked into a winning bid by Google, but I'm not sure I agree.
It is true that Google managed to get an unheard of limitation placed on the auction when it began. By including a requirement that the spectrum be kept open to third party applications and devices, Google stacked the deck in its favor in case of a loss. Verizon Wireless did make an attempt to stop the auction from going forward after Google won that concession, but go forward it did.
I'm not sure Verizon has any grounds for complaint since they continued to bid on the spectrum once the auction began, even after knowing that the spectrum would have to be kept open. That means they went into the auction and all the ramifications of a win with both eyes open. Not only that, the auction was one with an amount that was nearly double what the FCC expected to get.
The spectrum was auctioned off in chunks. Verizon won the largest slice of the pie, giving them the control of the bulk of the spectrum. AT&T and Echostar also won tiny slices of the 700 Mhz spectrum. This means that the sky is the limit as far as the companies' plans for the spectrum.
Google may not have won a chunk of the 700 Mhz spectrum in ownership, but their win on the open network concession pretty much sets the success of their iPhone competitor, a Google mobile PDA smart phone possibly run under their new Android division. It was already being called a viable option to the iPhone. With a whole new spectrum to play on in addition to Google's existing plans for it, the sky could be the limit if the company goes about it right (and when has Google faltered when it comes to media?).