Google wrote last week on their Public Policy Blog about Google's interest in promoting competition in the broadband market here in the U.S., to help ensure that as many Americans as possible can access the Internet. However, it takes more than just ideas and rhetoric if you want to help bring the Internet to everyone.
"Google has become increasingly involved in U.S. spectrum policy issues this year. One of our top public policy objectives is to expand the Internet's reach to more Americans. In part, that means creating new competition to challenge the existing broadband access duopoly (between cable and phone companies), by paving the way for consumers to gain meaningful alternatives via advanced wireless services.
Unfortunately, the wireless airwaves required to develop such a service traditionally have been allocated in a fragmented and inefficient manner. The federal government’s upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700 MHz bands (as part of the digital television transition) offers a tremendous, and probably unique, opportunity to promote competition and web-based innovation.Earlier this year, Google and other members of the “Coalition for 4G in America” urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt flexible rules that encourage competitive entry by new and innovative broadband companies. At the time, we stated that our advocacy in the 700 MHz proceeding did not necessarily signal our intention to participate in the auction itself, although no final decision had yet been made."
Today, Google has decided to put consumers' interests first, and putting Google's money where our principles are -- to the tune of $4.6 billion.
In the U.S., wireless spectrum for mobile phones and data is controlled by a small group of companies, leaving consumers with very few service providers from which to choose. With that in mind, last week, as the federal government prepares for what is arguably its most significant auction of wireless spectrum in history, Google has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules to make sure that regardless of who wins the spectrum at auction, consumers' interests are the top priority. Specifically, Google encouraged the FCC to require the adoption of four types of "open" platforms as part of the auction:
- Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
- Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize their handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
- Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
- Open networks: third parties (like Internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.
There are some who have claimed that embracing these principles and putting American consumers first might somehow devalue this spectrum. As much as we don't believe this to be the case, actions speak louder than words. That's why our CEO Eric Schmidt today sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, saying that, should the FCC adopt all four license conditions requested above, Google intends to commit at least $4.6 billion to bidding for spectrum in the upcoming 700 Mhz auction.
Official Google Blog: Our commitment to open broadband platforms