25 Comments

Summary:

Things are getting exciting and the mud-slinging continues. Nothing like big companies going at each other to make a Friday more exciting. Google intends to be a bidder in wireless auctions for the 700 MHz spectrum, and their new proposal doesn’t sit well with AT&T. (Surprise! […]

attlogo.pngThings are getting exciting and the mud-slinging continues. Nothing like big companies going at each other to make a Friday more exciting. Google intends to be a bidder in wireless auctions for the 700 MHz spectrum, and their new proposal doesn’t sit well with AT&T. (Surprise! Surprise!) Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs in a written statement emailed to us said:

Not satisfied with a compromise proposal from Chairman Martin that meets most of its conditions, Google has now delivered an all or nothing ultimatum to the U.S. Government, insisting that every single one of their conditions “must” be met or they will not participate in the spectrum auction.

Google is demanding the Government stack the deck in its favor, limit competing bids, and effectively force wireless carriers to alter their business models to Google’s liking. We would repeat that Google should put up or shut up— they can bid and enter the wireless market with any business model they prefer, then let consumers decide which model they like best.

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  1. Hey GigaOM! This is sounding like it can become a mud fight in the telecom industry. This sounds fun. I’d like it if you could answer these questions I have about the technologies in question:

    • Is the winning bid going to be using Mobile WiMAX on this 700MHZ spectrum? Is there any other kind of wireless broadband technology that suits better or worse in that frequency range?

    • How will this 700MHZ Mobile WiMAX be different from the one Sprint and Clearwire are building for next year? Can Mobile WiMAX equipment that is made for 700MHZ be compatible with 2500MHZ?

    • Can one deploy a 700MHZ network very cheaply by installing FON routers type of 10 dollar small boxes into people’s homes which would take adsl/cable/fiber that people have at home and no matter which provider they use, and broadcast that signal on 700MHZ, maybe Mobile WiMAX down onto the streets and nabourhood? Do you think such approach could automatically be scalable with more than one of such boxes installed per building, with clever bandwidth throttling and users still logging in through a centrally controlled DNS login just as with FON? Could FCC force all ISPs to accept that this FON approach be undertaken?

    • If this Flower Box model for a cheap and quick deployment of 700MHZ Mobile WiMAX would work, why isn’t Google suggesting FCC that they can make this happen and guarantee free mobile broadband access to all Americans during a specific limited amount of time, for example 5 years? Could bandwidth quality be guaranteed in the and be part of the bid? Since I think slow bandwidth could maybe be free and advertising supported while higher prioritized bandwidth could cost money.

    • Do you know what the status is for what the UHF 700MHZ frequency is going to be used for in Europe and other countries where they also are phasing out the old fashionned analogic terrestrial television?

  2. Raymond Padilla Friday, July 20, 2007

    Pshht. I rather have Google win. At least the potential for something new and interesting is there. AT&T is such an archaic company. The only thing interesting and progressive about its offerings is an Apple product.

  3. Smitty Smit Friday, July 20, 2007

    Let us not forget that Google is invested in internet of power lines technology. They could use this to power their wireless routers all over the country.

    As usual, G is a few steps ahead..

  4. Hmmm Google Network infrastructure, Apple edge devices….. Synergies…. Hmmmmmm gooogle data centers….old PSTN switching fabric … hmmmmmm xserves …. wireless last mile ….

  5. I agree with Raymond, at least Google winning some spectrum would spice up the wireless space a bit. It would force a long overdue change in business model.

  6. Libran Lover Friday, July 20, 2007

    I don’t understand. When did Google threaten that “they will not participate in the spectrum auction”? And even if they did present such threats, why would the government care? All they said was that they will participate in the auction if all their conditions for open-ness is met. I also did not see anything to indicate that Google is seeking to limit competing bids.

    AT&T’s statement makes no sense to me.

  7. Robin Majumdar Friday, July 20, 2007

    +1 also for what Craig and Raymond said. Despite the fact that we may all regret (and snicker) at believing in “Do no evil” down the road, at least we’ll have some fresh faces, minds, and thinking in the telecom space.

    Finally.

  8. looks like the good old boys of telecom are afraid of competition. Go Google, open up the wireless market. ATT is pissed because if there is an spectrum then the iPhone isnt as great because then it is possible could be used on the open network.

  9. “Put up or shut up” indeed… A federal agency is creating an auction which will generate as much cash as possible while trying to balance that against the public interest (increase productivity/lower prices for data access). AT&T has certainly influenced this board with their own position. When Google does the same (in a fashion that is much more focused on the public interest), AT&T’s response is to misrepresent Google’s letter (read it…it’s not an ultimatum, it’s a public-spirited encouragement for the federal agency to be more public-spirited).

  10. Where is Microsoft in all of this? They have more cash than anyone and surely of interest in this future access.

    They could certainly outbid Google.

  11. The genisis of Broadbandits 3.0

  12. @Rick: MS is busy with due diligence – to pay quit long bill on HW faults with Xbox ;)

  13. I hope that Google gets some of this spectrum. Agree w/commenters above, Google could shake things up.

  14. Jerry Gartner Saturday, July 21, 2007

    AT&T is upset just as Microsoft is over GPL3. Any time the established companies are threatened with potential losses due to a better way to do things, they get rather testy. There’s a brief comparision between the GLP concepts and the Google Wireless Manifest at http://rackit.gartnerwebdev.com/2007/07/21/the-google-manifesto-and-richard-stallman/ that elaborates on this a bit more.

  15. I have strange guts feeling that earlier report @Gigaom http://gigaom.com/2007/07/19/so-google-stumbles-should-anyone-care/ is actually consequence of Google push for bandwidth. I tend to think that investors are not cast of iron, and there are ways to mani… ergh, I mean hint them on some conflict of interest between Google and telecom herd. They were all good and excellent and so on until they started bite into piece of pie which were already assigned. I wish I could be completely wrong and considered paranoid idiot.

  16. I like the last part by the AT&T exec:

    “We would repeat that Google should put up or shut up— they can bid and enter the wireless market with any business model they prefer, then let consumers decide which model they like best.”

    I think it’s funny how he uses the term “consumers choice”. When it comes to telecomm how much choice do we really have? It’s been a pleasure to see AT&T taking a beating through the last decade. Consumers need some real choice and the answer is NOT AT&T.

  17. I have heard this rumor years ago and seem that it will be realize soon…. And hopefully its going to be better with AT&T……

  18. CTIA (on behalf of the wireless carriers) issued their ultimatum to the FCC earlier in the week. See comments

    CDMA Victims Seek Relief
    http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/15975

  19. Seeing the logo or hearing the name AT&T MAKES ME CRINGE! To make a long story short, I had to work with these idiots to get my iphone working.

    I … hate… AT&T!!!

  20. Google Wireless Network Infrastructure
    -Support for a variety of wireless devices
    -VOIP & Video to and from all enabled devices
    -New Medical uses (tracking, monitoring, etc)
    -New Transportation uses (Tracking & Monitoring, etc)

    -New Environmental uses (Monitoring of Air, Water, Gas and any other Hazardous materials)

  21. Brock Henderson Saturday, July 21, 2007

    The wireless business model is very similar to the major Telco’s business model; which simply stated is: “How much can we get away with”.

    I’m sure Google has their own adgenda, but the stipulations I’ve seen would be ground-breaking for the FCC.

    The FCC listens to the major Telco’s and wireless carriers (pretty much the same thing), and not to the little guys who really grew the internet.

    Google’s demands are basically wanting the FCC to reverse itself on major decesions that have helped the big boys create their monolopies.

    Of course if Google doesn’t get what it wants, but wins the bid, they have the option of opening up the frequencies and sell them wholesale.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  22. Neuromancer Monday, July 23, 2007

    Well you might get a first world mobile infrastructure out of it :-)

    Next you need LLU

  23. Jesse Kopelman Monday, July 23, 2007

    Charbax, I’ll take a shot at answering your questions:

    • If the winning bid is even used for broadband, WiMAX, LTE, and UMB are all viable. It really depends who wins, as each incumbent carrier has an existing allegiance to one or more of these techs. Meanwhile, currently the biggest proposed use for 700 MHz is mobile TV rather than boradband . . .

    • All things being equal, you need less towers for lower frequencies. That said, in cities the real issue is handling population density and the solution there is more spectrum (Sprint has more 2.6 GHz spectrum than all of these 700 MHz license combined). Since the cities are where you make your money, building a nationwide network will have a similar cost using either band — maybe even favoring 2.6 GHz (contrary to misguided popular wisdom).

    • No. If the cells are really small why would this be better than WiFi at 2.4 GHz? Sure 700 MHz penetrates buildings well, but with so little spectrum available you have frequency reuse issues and C/I ends up being a wash (or again favoring the higher frequency). What 700 MHz is really good for is covering large areas of very low population using giant towers. Your scenario is the exact opposite.

    • It can’t work. If it could, you could do it right now with WiFi.

    • I think most Asian and European countries are actually ahead of the Americas in terms of transitioning to digital television. I’m not sure about forcing broadcasters to terminate analog, though.

  24. Peter Winer Monday, July 23, 2007

    Google’s requirement for open devices and open applications is not necessary. Open devices and applications are already available today. The requirement for open services and networks is a good one and might help avoid current problems with SMS and other applications. Google is not the white knight here, they are just following their own profit motive and power agenda.

  25. trademark registration Friday, November 30, 2007

    Google isn’t as bad as Peter seems to make them out to be. I don’t think that Google’s worried too much about making a profit these days considering the neverending climb of their stock.

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