Google’s bid to define the wireless future

Google has said that would be willing to take part in an auction for part of the US radio spectrum. I’m trying to get my head around quite what this means. This is what I’ve gathered so far:

  • This is spectrum freed up when US TV channels go digital in 2009
  • The spectrum is great for wireless broadband as it can carry information a long distance and goes easily through walls and most other obstacles. A lot better than WiFi or WiMax networks
  • Long distance signals mean it will be cheaper to build a network
  • Google has set some conditions but is willing to bid $4.6bn
  • Normally these auctions are limited to the large telecoms companies and it will be a long time till the next opportunity arises
  • Google says any mobile handset or wireless-enabled device should be able to connect to the network (ie no more tying a model of handset to a specific network – example: in the US, the Apple iPhone is only available on the AT&T network and anyone wanting an iPhone would have to change contract to AT&T if they currently use another network)
  • Other devices include: laptops, media players, games consoles and more
  • People could access Google Apps and Google could send highly targeted ads (= more revenue for Google)
  • There will be lots of arguments
  • It will be a good few years yet before any of this becomes a reality
  • We can all then lend Google some spare change to do the same in Europe

Then there are the rumours of a Google mobile phone due by the end of the year…


Update (9 August): John Battelle, who has spoken to Google’s CEO on more than one occasion, pours scorn on the idea of a GPhone:

“What the hell kind of journalism is this?…I dislike this kind of speculative journalism. It’s just hype.”

The post also has some interesting comments by other readers about just what makes a mobile phone a “Google phone.”


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