Google: Money for Nothing and Your Spectrum for Free

kev_larry3Google may be getting all the advantages of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to start opening up more radio spectrum without even having to bid big at an expensive spectrum auction. The FCC’s decision earlier this week to open up white space spectrum, the slivers of bandwidth between what’s being made available for the coming digital television stations, could eventually net the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant as much as $5 billion more a year. Google President and Co-founder Larry Page said today at the Wireless Communications Alliance conference in San Jose., Calif., that using those so-called white spaces for broadband could lead to 20 percent to 30 percent more revenue — which means Google’s vocal support of spectrum openness is already looking like money in the bank. The company pulled in revenue of $16.6 billion in the last financial year.

Google has been frank about why it wants better public access to broadband, but Page made the case again. If it’s easier for people to search the web, he said, “we’d make a lot more money without changing anything about what we do as a business.”

During both an on-stage tete-a-tete with FCC chair Kevin Martin and a press conference afterwards, both men agreed there’s a general trend in industry, and even among regulators, to address ways to bring cheap and widely available broadband to as many people as possible. Verizon, for example, has to stick by FCC conditions about allowing gadgets other than its phones to operate on its network when it comes to its recently acquired 700 MHz-band win. But the company would probably extend those conditions to other bandwidths it owns, Martin said.

In terms of devices, Page argued that making $5 Wi-Fi radio chips that talk on all bands and protocols would help the push for openness. “We should do that. And we probably can,” he said. That also means regulators need to look more closely at where current spectrum policy is outdated, he added.

Image courtesy of Paul Kapustka.

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