After Android this was surely the next logical step.
Today Google has confirmed what we knew in July and which became obvious after Android (prototypes below): it wants a piece of the mobile phone network.
Consequently, the search giant will now make a formal application to the FCC on 3 December to participate in the US 700 MHz auction – the required first step in the auction process. Google’s application does not include any partners and the winning bidder will be announced in Q1 next year.
“We believe it’s important to put our money where our principles are,” said Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman and CEO. “Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today’s wireless world. No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet.”
For those needing a bit of back history, the 700MHz spectrum was originally used to broadcast analogue TV signals. As digital took over it has been freed up and all broadcasts within it will cease by 17 February 2009. The auction will see the spectrum reallocated to the winning bidder(s) and it is expected to be used for wide area, high speed data coverage.
Why Google wants in however remains a matter of some debate. The official stance is it aims to shake up the existing mobile network with some speculating that a free mobile service may be launched, supported by the company’s much loved ad-supported revenue model. Conversely, detractors argue Google will become just another profit focused provider exclusively selling its own handsets.
Personally I’m inclined to favour the more positive outlook and I suspect – whatever the outcome of the auction – it will lead to greater choice and better mobile broadband access. Any revolutionary business models will also surely influence Ofcom’s similar plans to auction off its 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums over here (a decision upon which is due any minute).
So exciting times ahead, unless you’re an ISP…