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Google Plans to Bid 4.6 Billion on 700MHz Band

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the dude-you've-been-googed dept.

Cellphones 148

NickCatal writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google plans to bid $4.6 Billion on the 700 MHz radio spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC. What is most interesting is that they are not planning on partnering with other companies to raise the cash, they are going to spend their own cash and possibly borrow some. With partners such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in their 'Open Handset Alliance' is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?"

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Shocking!!! (2, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378299)

Didnt they say they would do this a long time ago? How is this a story again?

Re:Shocking!!! (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378733)

How is this a story again?

Because if you bid $4,600,000,000.01 you get the license and not Google.

 

Re:Shocking!!! (2, Interesting)

VeriTea (795384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379341)

No, most licenses are divided into regions (RTA's). You bid a price on each region and then cobble together a network out of the regions you won and the spectrum you can trade to other holders that have licenses in the areas you didn't win.

Re:Shocking!!! (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379451)

No I'm pretty sure with this one the FCC clearly stated is one nation wide license for the entire country.
Most regional license for few a few million. We are talking 4.6 billion here.

Re:Shocking!!! (1)

heelrod (124784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379517)

This news is about 3 months old. Good grief.

Re:Shocking!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378873)

What crawled up your ass? The last I recall, Google wanted four conditions places on the 700Mhz spectrum before they would consider bidding on it and only got two. Now that the December 3rd deadline is approaching, an update on Google's position is news, at least to me.

f me thats a lot of money (2, Funny)

superskippy (772852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378309)

Do even Google have this kind of cash? It's a very big bet for a company to make- if this goes wrong they could sink the whole Google ship.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (5, Funny)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378467)

> Do even Google have this kind of cash?

I think Sergey is going to sell 100 shares.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (4, Informative)

Roofus (15591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378655)

Googles Market Cap is $198 Billion [cnn.com] . I think they can find the capital if need be.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (2, Informative)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378707)

According to Yahoo's stock info for Google [yahoo.com] , Google has $13B in cash and it makes $4B per year in profit.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380443)

According to Google Finance [google.com] that figure is current assets which is cash + short term investments. Short term investments is usually very liquid and can be turned into cash within a year. However, their cash alone is still 5.1 billion.

Correction (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380489)

It isn't current assets, it is cash + short term investments that total to 13 billion. Though their current assets isn't much larger since they are mostly a software company (15 billion).

Re:f me thats a lot of money (4, Informative)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378777)

At the close of their most recent quarter Google has more than $13B in cash in the bank. They also have no debt to speak of.

With a market capitalization of nearly $200B, no debt, and a 22% return on equity, Google should have absolutely no problem raising cash if necessary. I suspect they will tap into their cash reserves rather than debt financing or raising capital by diluting existing shareholder equity.

The numbers are here:
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=GOOG [yahoo.com]

Re:f me thats a lot of money (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379079)

Do even Google have this kind of cash? It's a very big bet for a company to make- if this goes wrong they could sink the whole Google ship.


I imagine that RF spectrum is an asset that they could liquidate very easily if needed. It's not going to get any less valuable while they're holding onto it, and as long as they don't overpay, it very well may appreciate in value.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379155)

in fact, i'd say it's going to get more valuable as time pass. spectrum is at a premium (hah!) right now and it's only getting worse (or better..)

Re:f me thats a lot of money (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379581)

I think the opposite is true. You'd be amazed how much spectrum has been opened up and has been bought up cheaply because the big players are waiting for the lower frequency stuff to become available. We haven't heard that much about it because the technologies being deployed, WiMAX and UMTS-TDD, are still in their infancy, and because with the exception of Sprint (which is rolling back its WiMAX plans anyway) no big names with big budgets are involved.

We're going to see a spectrum glut over the next few years as far as spectrum able to provide mobile or fixed internet access goes. The 700MHz range will always be more valuable than the higher 2.5 and 3.5GHz frequencies that are currently being provided for internet services, but in a context in which virtually every wireless communications provider has moved over to UMTS rev. 8 (LTE) (AT&T, T-Mobile, and even Verizon are all committed to this), you're looking at nationwide wireless internet access using a commodity standard and commodity hardware available on the 700, 800, 1700/2100, and 1900MHz bands, and presumably some variant, in the long run, on 2.5 and 3.5GHz. That's a lot of spectrum. The real technological limits on bandwidth use are likely to be on creating mobile hardware that can process the information fast enough.

I seriously doubt 700MHz will ever be as valuable in five years time as it is today.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (2, Funny)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380085)

In summary...640k ought to be enough for everybody ;)

Re:f me thats a lot of money (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380869)

Of course not! It's just spectrum isn't going to be the major issue affecting bandwidth use over the next few years; creating low power technologies capable of processing the information quickly enough is more likely to be the major factor. And yes, technologies improve, but operators also have to keep making cell sizes progressively smaller as they fill in coverage holes, effectively creating more bandwidth without increasing spectrum usage.

And I haven't even covered the huge increases in unlicensed wireless services available, as systems like FON make it easier to make your own wired bandwidth available wirelessly to third parties without the security and liability issues of open WAPs.

The bottom line is that there's currently more spectrum available than we have hardware to use it, and that trend is going to be true for many years to come as the FCC opens up more spectrum; as existing spectrum used by legacy systems is converted over to more modern technologies; and as operators roll out towers to fill in coverage holes and black spots. I'd say it's going to be at least a decade before we start feeling the pinch.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379247)

Do even Google have this kind of cash?
Do we as customers have that kind of cash? Whoever pays $4.6 BN for it is darn sure they'll turn around and charge even more for us to use it. I would rather see the FCC simply make up some non-interference rules and spare us all the expense.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (3, Informative)

Frank Battaglia (787673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379909)

Not necessarily. The purchaser will most likely utilize the spectrum in the way which makes the most profit. For Google's business model, that may entail unencumbered access to get as large a user base as possible for directed advertising.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380629)

There are approximately 300 million people in the USA, so this works out at just over $15 per person. If they get 20% of people to use their service, it's $60 per person (over the lifetime of the licence). I strongly suspect that they can make this much profit. The cost of building the infrastructure is likely to be much more than this.

Re:f me thats a lot of money (4, Insightful)

sowth (748135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380969)

The FCC isn't going to do that. Now their primary function is to steal the radio spectrum from the people and auction it off to the highest bidder.

I'm beginning to think there is no point following FCC rules. If the government is going to be greedy thieving bastards with our radio spectrum, why not just become freebanders? WTF? I thought the FCC was supposed to regulate the airwaves for everyone's benefit? If they just take them away to sell them, then they are just another scheme by the corrupt goverment to separate the citizens from their rightful use of public commons and get money out of it.

maybe compete, but I don't see google (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378323)

becoming a cell phone provider any more than an internet provider.

Most likely it'll involve them leasing out the band to other users to prevent a monopoly. Maybe giving a discount to users of Google's cell phone tech and/or adding special features that (by owning the band) it can ensure will be available anywhere there is a tower that handles the band.

why? (2, Interesting)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378329)

why disclose how much you are going to bid? that's like playing poker and revealing your cards. i won't google to win, but why let the other guys raise 4.6 billion and 1 penny?

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378453)

because it doesn't work like that.

There'll be many "rounds" of bidding. The initial bid is just to see who's interested. After that, the stakes will rise with each interested party desperately trying to squeeze more finance out of their partners/banks/owners to raise their bid.

At some point one will either not be able to raise any more ca$h and quit the bidding rounds, while the other go on. Some will realise that at the price they will have to pay, their business model breaks and they won;t make any profit.

Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt, have to join up with some other bidders (who pulled out earlier) or not have enough monkey left to actually build the systems they wanted to implement.

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378601)

Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt

The whole system fucking sucks. Why exactly are AT&T and Verizon even allowed to take part in this auction? Both of them have TONS of spectrum in the cellular, PCS and even AWS bands. Why is there no justification process attached to bidding on a limited resource and no mechanism in place to keep greedy monopolies from hoarding all of the spectrum to shut out newcomers?

Did you know in some markets that AT&T holds over 75% of the available cellular and PCS spectrum? They justified this back in the day by claiming that they needed to run three networks -- AMPS (analog), TDMA and GSM, even as they were forcing their customers to vacate the old AMPS and TDMA equipment.

I find it depressingly ironic that I have to fill out paperwork to justify my IP requests to ARIN, but a far more limited resource that theoretically belongs to everybody is just auctioned off to the highest bidder with no consideration as to whether or not it's in the interest of the public. Hell, even the limited "open access" rules that have been purposed are even being fought by Verizon, because they'd rather lock you into their hardware, their content and their service then allow an open market to flourish.

Re:why? (2, Insightful)

Blahgerton (1083623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378895)

The whole system fucking sucks. Why exactly is the radio spectrum even up for auction?
There fixed that for you. Gotta love our government, selling the people's property.

Re:why? (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380229)

Why not? The more who participate, the higher the price paid -- spectrum auctions offset my taxes.

Plus, if Verizon thinks it can out-bid Google and do something with the spectrum that its customers will be willing to pay more than $4.6B for, that's a good thing. If they turn out to be wrong and somebody else can, than Verizon's best bet is to sell the spectrum to that other company.

Re:why? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380657)

The more who participate, the higher the price paid -- spectrum auctions offset my taxes.

What a wonderful free-market view of the problem. Of course it's not really saving you a nickel if you need to use wireless service and wind up paying more for that service because of the entrenched market positions of the dominant carriers, who are only gobbling up more spectrum to prevent anybody new from coming into the market.

One would think that with a free and competitive market that prices, terms and conditions would come down/align with the interests of consumers, because after all, in a free market if you over-charge for something your customers are just going to go somewhere else.

How interesting then that each of the carriers seems to match each other then it comes to price hikes. Like SMS. Used to be able to receive them for free and it cost a pittance ($0.02 in many cases) to send them. Then it was $0.02 to receive and $0.10 to send. Now it's $0.15 to send or receive across the board. Doesn't matter which carrier you use.

Rather interesting that they all raised the price at the same time, now isn't it? If the benefits of the "free market" translate into a oligopoly that seemingly acts together to raise prices and impose harsher and harsher terms on their customers, then where do I sign up to become a communist, because frankly I'm sick and tired of being screwed by companies that are operating on the radio spectrum that belongs to everybody.

Tax offset? (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381185)

How does it offset your taxes? When the government gets more money, they don't reduce taxes, they find new ways to waste it--or politicians find new ways to secretly line their pockets. What planet have you been living on?

Re:why? (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380231)

Auctioning to the highest bidder (subject to monopoly/antitrust law) is sort of guaranteeing it is in the public interest. In this case the government thinks the public interest in in using the spectrum for maximum increase of GDP. If it goes to the highest bidder it will be bought by whoever can expect to get the best return from it, which has the maximum benefit to the economy.

Re:why? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380703)

f it goes to the highest bidder it will be bought by whoever can expect to get the best return from it

"Best return" is a subjective term. My "best return" if I bought spectrum might translate into successfully establishing a wireless carrier with enough customers to survive and make money after my venture capital runs out.

Verizon's "best return" might translate into buying spectrum that they don't need just to keep me out of the market.

I fail to see how it would harm them or the economy to have to prove they actually have plans for all of this spectrum that they are gobbling up when they aren't even fully utilizing what they have now. Should we likewise address the pending ipv4 shortage by abandoning the existing IP assignment process and just selling them to the highest bidder, regardless of whether or not they need them?

Re:why? (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379025)

Eventually someone will "win", but this will be a phyrric victory as the amount of money they will have to pay for a licence will be so high that they'll either go bankrupt, have to join up with some other bidders (who pulled out earlier) or not have enough monkey left to actually build the systems they wanted to implement.

Yeah, I hate it when I go to build something and realise that I've run out of monkey.

Re:why? (1)

FriendOfBagu (770778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379057)

or not have enough monkey left to actually build the systems they wanted to implement.

But surely Google wouldn't be foolish enough to trade their builder monkeys for this license.

Re:why? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379555)

If the FCC really wants to encourage that, then they should adopt the same bidding process as the UK used for the 3G spectrum auction. The highest bidder pays the price of the second highest bid. This encourages bubble-headed companies to put in ridiculously high bids, secure in the knowledge that even if they win, they won't have to pay as much as they bid. But oops, more than one company adopted the same strategy.

Re:why? (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378475)

Ah, but maybe like all great poker players they are actually only telling you what cards they want you to think they have. Also, I imagine that, should they be out-bid by a penny, they will find some more money somewhere.

Re:why? (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378485)

Well, if they're clever a 3rd party will anticipate that move too and bid $4.6m and 2 pennies!

Re:why? (5, Informative)

Ducu2002 (1079987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378513)

4.6 billion is the minimum price the FCC is willing to actually sell for, as in if nobody bids as much as 4.6 the FCC won't actually sell. So by saying to the FCC we'll bid 4.6 they assure the FCC they'll get the price they wanted. In exchange for this assurance Google got 2 out of 4 condition for free access to the frequency.

Re:why? (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378635)

They announce it to scare off others and set a starting bid. That way if it's public knowledge it may go for over 4billion, I'm sure a lot of smaller companies wont even show up to bid. Plus it says nothing about how much they are willing to spend total, just that 4.6 is what they're publicly saying now.

Re:why? (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379491)

Ummm....no, it's just the initial bet. The cards are still very much hidden.

Not an Act of War (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378335)

With partners such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in their 'Open Handset Alliance' is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?
Perhaps it's just me but I thought the 'Open Handset Alliance' merely strove to see a common development platform with standards in relation to code, transferring data & hardware. I don't think this suddenly warrants the companies to throw in their lot together and go in together on everything.

The band that a company owns seems to be a completely different business investment.

Case in point, when a company 'joins' the World Wide Web Consortium [w3.org] , it isn't considered unfriendly for them to go buy another T1 line for their company or even purchase software from a company who doesn't support W3C.

And the reason I hesitate to use the word 'joins' is that when a standard is truly open, you don't have to join to use it. Hell, you really shouldn't even be forced to use it forever. It's open. It's out there for anybody to use or to stop using. That's what attracts me to open standards. I haven't paid IBM or signed an agreement with Microsoft whereby if a new technology arises I have to wait for the agreement to wear off.

You shouldn't have to 'buy in' to the Open Handset Alliance and I think you're thinking of it in the wrong way when you imply that it's detrimental by not going in with other members on this auction from the FCC.

If they did a good job making the standards and you don't have to commit to it, other companies will want to use it. They aren't going to care if Google is still trying to make a profit in other realms. Just because Google made an open standard for everyone to use doesn't mean they now need to sit back on their heels and be ultra careful not to upset anyone--and the other companies know this. Hell, everyone needs to make a profit.

Not so much competing against (2, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378347)

But not being restricted by the people they've partnered with. If they have the rights to the spectrum free and clear of entanglements from other companies, they aren't limited to a single carrier (or group of carriers) for their offerings. They also have a bit more freedom to play around in the sandbox. Likely the companies they've worked with in the past will get some preferential treatment, but it allows Google to have ultimate control (well, except for the FCC of course).

Re:Not so much competing against (1)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379915)

No it's pretty much competing with... Although, there is some truth to what you say. It's definitely a straight competition with the GSM carriers, that is for certain.

God Smack Your Ass !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378375)

God Smack Your Ass !!

Don't fuck with Googly !!

Its called revrse MVNO (1, Informative)

shareme (897587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378455)

its called reverse MVNO. The open Handset Alliance Mobile Operator partners will be operating or servicing that spectrum that Google will bi don as a Google MVNO in reverse with the Google Brand name.. Sometimes it does help to ask a mobile expert.. Fred Grott Mobile Expert http://www.jroller.com/shareme [jroller.com]

More Google vaporware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378507)

This seems like just another case of Google throwing money around with no idea if they can make money on it. Like YouTube, and anything else outside of search and advertising.

And quite frankly, the more they do, the more concerned I am about how much information on ordinary US Citizens they are adding to their NSA data mine. There has never been an invasion of privacy on the kind of scale the US government is illegally maintaining. Our only salvation would be kicking all the conservatives/libertarian/fascists/theocrats out of government. Will it happen? It's hard to say: sure it needs to be done, but since when have institutional Democrats had a spine, or balls?

Re:More Google vaporware? (-1, Offtopic)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378623)

Hard to kick all the conservatives/fascists/theocrats out of government when they make up such a significant portion of the population. It's called a "representative" government. Some people voted for Bush because they agreed with his views...or at least what he stated his views were. Of course some voted for him because Kerry and Gore were such jokes. As long as we have the great two party system where there are only bad choices we will continue to have sucky people in office.

Re:More Google vaporware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378875)

Since when have Libertarians been for illegal data mines? Since when has a true conservative (not the neo-con garbage running rampant today) wanted anything like that? And who in a position of power in our government is an actual Theocrat?

I have a dream that one day blind party-toeing folks like you seem to be will grow up and understand the real world and real ideas. Party-ism is a disease.

My bet (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378515)

will be that the initial Bid will be for that, but that they will join forces with others, possibly IBM, Apple, etc. to jump this bid up. I think that they want to win this for the simple reason of insurance that ISP can not kill them off. Right now, the Communications/ISP industry is heading towards a gov. issued oligopoly with outrageous prices and lousy service. With an open network, Google can put pressure on all of the industry to move towards an open network. As far as their open system and pissing off their "partners", you did notice that few carriers are there? It is mostly equipment folks. That means that the real partners will be outside of USA. Sprint is doing it, but that does not mean that they will offer it. But if they can have an edge on Verizon and ATT, well, yeah, they will go through with it.

More likely.... (2, Interesting)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378567)

By ponying up their own cash, they are putting a gun to the heads of virtually every US telco, because it basically says to them "Google's got bandwidth of our own that doesn't pay you one red cent. So we don't have to play ball with any of you."


But if a telco chooses to "play nice" and open their network to the OCA based, presumably uber-cool handset and applications, folks may just stay with an existing provider and then both Google and the Wireless provider both get to make buckets of $$$.

Dislike of Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378583)

It's very clear that if someone dislikes Google, she or he must dislike most of the search engines, too (Lee Smolin certainly does!). It's because Google is nothing else than the crown, unification, or culmination of the search engines and all of its crucial results, insights, methods, principles, and values.

Re:Dislike of Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21380587)

I'd like to mod this comment +0.5 nice try.

Sprint Nextel (0, Troll)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378629)

Sprint Nextel? When did Sprint and Nextel merge? I thought I would have heard about a big merger like that.

Oh, maybe you meant Sprint and Nextel? No, surely not. If it were a list of three companies in the summary, they would have been separated by commas.

And yes, grammar does matter when it harms your intelligibility.

Re:Sprint Nextel (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378719)

The New York stock exchange thinks they've merged since they are listed as one corporation there. I believe the merger was two years ago...could be wrong though.

Re:Sprint Nextel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378731)

You are living under a rock

Re:Sprint Nextel (0, Flamebait)

MikeD83 (529104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378765)

Uhhh... so 2005 [wikipedia.org] dude.

Re:Sprint Nextel (1)

Sudheer_BV (1049540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378979)

Indeed. I would mod you up if I had the privilege.

Re:Sprint Nextel (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379837)

FYI: "On December 15, 2004, Sprint and NEXTEL announced they would merge to form Sprint Nextel Corporation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprint_Nextel [wikipedia.org]

$ for citizens (4, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378667)

Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up. The FCC while not an official government body is still somewhat kind of part of the government. Will this money go back to the people since after all it's all our frequencies, we just choose to let the FCC govern it for us.

Re:$ for citizens (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378965)

Would be nice if the money were used to build a better broadband infrastructure so we weren't so damn far behind everyone else. That is really going to hurt us in the near future and exclude us from the truly global marketplace. How many municipal wifi systems could you build with ~$5 billion? Is there some other better way of using the money for our nation's internet access? Might be a good idea for Google to spend a few extra million publicizing the fact that a gov agency is about to get a lot of money they don't really need. Focus people's attention on where that money goes. Wtf does the FCC need with billions of dollars?

Re:$ for citizens (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379723)

I think the money that is bid should be spent by the bidding company on the infrastructure intended. For instance, if Google can afford to build 4.6B$ infrastructure then that sounds like a reasonably good bid to me.

Re:$ for citizens (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380517)

That's a recipe for corruption and mandated stupidity; a company could bid to build $5T 'worth' of infrastructure and then artificially inflate costs to meet that level by paying exorbitant salaries to the boss's nephew, etc. The wireless spectrum is a scarce resource, and one way to allocate it (not the only way, but one that seems to work well for other scarce resources such as land) is for companies to pay money for the part they want. This at least has the advantage that it's free of political considerations; ten dollars is more than nine dollars, no question about it, and it doesn't make a difference if the nine dollars was offered by someone who has good connections in the White House, or is well-known on TV, etc.

Re:$ for citizens (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380547)

um $5 billion I meant. Probably wasting all of that money is not feasible but still a company can 'spend' money by paying inflated prices to its subsidiaries, etc.

Re:$ for citizens (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379687)

Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up. The FCC while not an official government body is still somewhat kind of part of the government. Will this money go back to the people since after all it's all our frequencies, we just choose to let the FCC govern it for us.

I want to see all this money, plus *all* of the money from the sale of the television spectrum following the HD deadline, to come back to us as a fat check to pay for one day in Iraq.

It's part of the government (4, Informative)

dewarrn1 (985887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379841)

From http://www.fcc.gov/aboutus.html [fcc.gov]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
Proceeds from auctions appear to be paid to the Treasury, although I admit I didn't wade through the entire act and it has been amended piecemeal since enactment http://www.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf [fcc.gov] (PDF warning):

(C) DEPOSIT AND USE OF AUCTION ESCROW ACCOUNTS.-- Any deposits the Commission may require for the qualification of any person to bid in a system of competitive bidding pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited in an interest bearing account at a financial institution designated for purposes of this subsection by the Commission (after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury). Within 45 days following the conclusion of the competitive bidding-- (i) the deposits of successful bidders shall be paid to the Treasury; (ii) the deposits of unsuccessful bidders shall be returned to such bidders; and (iii) the interest accrued to the account shall be transferred to the Telecommunications Development Fund established pursuant to section 714 of this Act.

Re:$ for citizens (1)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380433)

"Personally I'd like to know just as much where this 4.6+ billion dollars is going to end up."

Iraq, I would guess.

stop the spectrum tax on the airways (4, Interesting)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378669)

Perhaps the whole problem with the FCC is that they auction the spectrum to the highest bidder.

No wonder providers lock out third party handsets. They just paid billions for the spectrum, they have every incentive to maximize profits.

What would be most beneficial to the consumer is perhaps a company that just sold mobile IP addresses and had nothing to do with selling devices. Let consumers choose their own devices in a competitive market for the bandwidth they purchase. Maybe the FCC should stop thinking about billions of short term dollars and start thinking about what's best for consumers and the industry as a whole.

Why, yes, that might work (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379733)

A business setup not for the sake of the shareholders but for the benefit of the people. Controlled by the state to see that it encourages innovation and equality.

Why you could even use the profits to fund goverment, call it a state run industry.

You communist, and no pointing out that the original US postal system worked like this and that this is what allowed the US goverment to have low taxes since it had other sources of income.

Re:stop the spectrum tax on the airways (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380189)

Auctioning spectrum is actually a really good idea, it ensures the spectrum is allocated to its highest value use.

Re:stop the spectrum tax on the airways (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380717)

In the US there is no economic incentive to make handsets that are universal. Therefore, there is no assurance without carrier testing that a given handset will work with their system. The tower systems themselves have quirks that make some handsets not work very well.

As I said, there is no incentive to change this today. This is why you can't get Nokia handsets from Verizon - their testing shows they don't work very well with the system Verizon is using.

Would it be nicer in a techy-geeky sort of way if everyone changed over to using the latest and best system and there were only universal handsets? Sure. But that isn't how it is and it is not likely to get that way in the US anytime soon.

Re:stop the spectrum tax on the airways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381475)

So by the same token a wired TCP/IP standardized Internet shouldn't work either.

I'm always amazed at the lengths people go to to defend wireless providers. Be thankful they didn't invent the Internet otherwise you'd by your computer from one ISP and it wouldn't work with any other.

There is no reason a large chunk of the wireless spectrum could not be standardized by the likes of DARPA, et al. And companies could still make money running it.

Competition Alliance (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378721)

Sprint and T-Mobile seem to have no problem competing with each other while also joining the OHA.

And Google has been planning to spend $billions on the 700MHz band to compete with them all for years.

This story isn't stupid, but the question it asks to frame it is so stupid I'm surprised I didn't see it on TV news.

The Hot FM. (2, Funny)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378771)

Google. 700 FM. M. M. m. m. m. Can anyone confirm the info on this page: [jneuhaus.com] the 700MHz band is currently TV Channel 52. People watching this station in Oklahoma [ksbitv.com] might get some interference. I know - switch to digital TV. But wouldn't it be funny if Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sounded like two farmers talking about tractors!

Re:The Hot FM. (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381431)

But who would sound like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on their cell phone?

reading voice mail (3, Funny)

nerdyalien (1182659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378775)

hope they not gonna read the Voice-Mails like they read our e-mails !!!

billionerrors always want to control everthing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21378803)

micro management has never worked. it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster.

we're intending/expecting for the nazis to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather'.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab [google.com]
=wv&oi=property_suggestions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=1

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption.

fortunately there's an 'army' of angels, coming yOUR way

no need to be afraid/dismayed, it is the way it was meant to be.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected.

after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit?

for each of the creators' innocents harmed, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available.

beware the illusionary smoke&mirrors.con

all is not lost/forgotten.

no need to fret (unless you're associated/joined at the hype with, unprecedented evile), it's all just a part of the creators' wwwildly popular, newclear powered, planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

or, is it (literally) ground hog day, again? many of US are obviously not interested in how we appear (which is whoreabull) from the other side of the 'lens', or even from across the oceans.

vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable.

we still haven't read (here) about the 2/3'rds of you kids who are investigating/pursuing a spiritual/conscience/concious re-awakening, in amongst the 'stuff that matters'? another big surprise?

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

My plan (1)

Ducho_CWB (900642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378847)

simple
My startup will wait the last second of this auction and show offer 4,60000000001 billion and WIN.

No one knows how much google will offer for this or win, until the last second.

Battle plans...? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378851)

"is this a sign that they are willing to directly compete with the people they courted to join?"

Business stopped being that simple, oh...like maybe 1 or 2 thousand years ago.

Does the phrase 'embrace and extend*' ring a tiny bell?

No? Try looking at it this way. MS constantly wages FUD. Always - frequently with whatever legal club happens to be within easy reach. Google, on the other hand does things in a rather novel manner (TIC) via the use of something called 'logic'. It's a more mature strategy (and I'm quoting Dave W. here). It involves seduction, not violence. Guess which 'tactic' history will smile on.



* The original - not the MS version.

Peanuts ... in Germany .... (1)

datalife (17290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378935)

... they paid 50.8 billion euros for six licenses.

This is not news worthy ;)

Re:Peanuts ... in Germany .... (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380851)

And the way things are going, that will soon be <Evil> 100 billion dollars! </Evil>.

Mr. Cringely has been saying this for a while... (1)

Sirch (82595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378953)

... such as last Friday [pbs.org] - seems he's got this one fairly pegged. Not sure I agree with his ideas about credit agencies etc.

A free, ad-supported Google cell service with GPhones would be pretty cool for you guys over there, I guess. Some people might be a bit wary of Google's dominance, but I suppose they'll still be blinded by Google's "Do No Evil" to think about how much Google already know/control. From my point of view, I'd just like people to be aware of how powerful they are - I've not made my mind up about whether I think they'll go rogue a la Microsoft...

The people familiar with the matter... (1)

xenophyx (977988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21378991)

Google also views open wireless networks as key to sidestep any telephone and cable company efforts to make it difficult for consumers to access Google services, or to charge Google to deliver the services to consumers over their Internet connections.

What's to stop the carriers from doing that? Wasn't their addition to the auction rules only applying to this spectrum? It just seems that other carriers could completely prevent access to that side of the wireless world.

Am I missing something here, people familiar with the matter?

Ticking time bomb for the old media (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379013)

The term "old media" is a semi-ad hominem style attack that I like to use against the previously monopolistic media, mostly TV, radio and newspaper. Yet that term holds true to any company that attempts to use the force of law to keep and protect monopolistic practices in any communications market, including cell phones and land lines.

Google has proven that the monopoly of distribution can be broken by their network, and their applications. AdSense replaces expensive marketing and advertising departments, Blogger.com replaces the need for physical media and the costs associated. Google Search replaces direct advertising campaigns, and YouTube is trumping the cable networks in giving people a la carte entertainment at a moment's notice. I have high hopes that Google's foray into the wireless market will offer huge gains for those of us who are sick and tired of the old media cell phone technology (locked phones, expensive monthly charges, limited application support, etc).

As WiFi exploded in use, I continued to be amazed at how relatively unregulated bandwidth worked so well in all the market locales I had WiFi implemented in. Yes, I've heard horror stories by relatively few, but in my office in downtown Chicago, our WiFi network worked seamlessly with dozens of others in the same building. Up to now, I still can't find verifiable proof that other wireless bandwidth segments can't be shared by dozens, or hundreds, of providers in the same vicinity. With the advent of software radios (frequency hopping, output power changes, etc), it seems that the first person to relinquish full control of their bandwidth nation-wide will really hurt the old media strangehold in the wireless market.

My biggest fear for wireless is the push for more laws to regulate "network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price. It doesn't make sense to me (neither as a businessman, nor as an individual). I'm hoping to see Google offer the bandwidth in markets they can't reach in a relatively unregulated and openly competitive atmosphere. In an adjoining town to mine, Libertyville, Illinois, there are numerous WiFi Internet providers who are doing gangbusters sticking access points on leased towers and giving people in the region what they want (including even free WiFi at a throttled speed) at the price they're willing to pay. The old media companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc) have fought tooth and nail to shut down these hooligans, but the city has held its ground in allowing them to compete. My own town won't allow this to happen (although we do have a bunch of WiFi sharing groups on within 2 blocks of me), so I'd love to see a national push by a major new media company to open bandwidth for all to play with to see what the market can provide with reduced FCC rules created by the old monopolists.

My big concern is the names Sprint and T-Mobile associated with the post. I use T-Mobile for 60% of my wireless communication (mostly EDGE and voice), and AT&T for the remainder (3G), and while I'm happy, I also use unlocked foreign phones and hardware devices. My friends who use the locally provided versions of the same devices are really unhappy, and don't have anywhere near the amount of customization and freedom that I get by providing my own (expensive) devices.

I do see a big WMD for the old media ahead, ready to explode. It's called competition, and it will come from all levels: locally, nationally, internationally. I've spent more time on YouTube in the past 2 weeks than watching TV in the past 6 months. I'm prepared with my wallet to pay in advance for broadcasts I like (such as Sanctuary, which I feel isn't there yet), and I can't wait to see what foreigners with a great grasp of English start producing with the technology available. Combine that with a relatively cheap and open range of bandwidth frequencies, and the radio/tv/cell monopolists are dead.

I can't wait. Who do I write a check to at Google?

Re:Ticking time bomb for the old media (2, Insightful)

philgross (23409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380027)

My biggest fear for wireless is the push for more laws to regulate "network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price. It doesn't make sense to me (neither as a businessman, nor as an individual). I'm hoping to see Google offer the bandwidth in markets they can't reach in a relatively unregulated and openly competitive atmosphere. In an adjoining town to mine, Libertyville, Illinois, there are numerous WiFi Internet providers who are doing gangbusters sticking access points on leased towers and giving people in the region what they want (including even free WiFi at a throttled speed) at the price they're willing to pay. The old media companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc) have fought tooth and nail to shut down these hooligans, but the city has held its ground in allowing them to compete. My own town won't allow this to happen (although we do have a bunch of WiFi sharing groups on within 2 blocks of me), so I'd love to see a national push by a major new media company to open bandwidth for all to play with to see what the market can provide with reduced FCC rules created by the old monopolists.
You do not understand what network neutrality is. The issue is not whether providers can offer can offer different tiers of service for different prices. Of course they can -- they do it now and will continue to do so in the future. The question of network neutrality is whether, after you pay for a certain level of service, the ISP can vary your service based on the destination or content of a given packet. The canonical example is internet service provided by a telco choosing to block or cripple VOIP internet packets, since those compete with its core revenue stream. Without network neutrality, providers would be free to slow down or drop traffic to Google services while speeding up traffic to their in-house services.

Re:Ticking time bomb for the old media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21380377)

you have no idea at all if GP understands net neutrality. it is foolish to claim that you do. perhaps he didn't explain it because he assumed we all know. all is well, what would slashdot be without a bunch of idiots just looking for a chance to be superior.

Re:Ticking time bomb for the old media (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380697)

The fact that he put it as, "I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price," tells you that he unequivocally does not understand net neutrality.

If you're a carrier, you should have the ability to sell me a bigger chunk of your bandwidth. You should not have the right to control the content that is transmitted over the share you sell me.

Imagine a pizza-delivery company who pays the phone company to drop calls to its competitors at random... that's what dada21 is arguing for.

Hell, look up the history of the Strowger [wikipedia.org] switch. This battle has been fought before.

Re:Ticking time bomb for the old media (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380943)

My biggest fear for wireless is the push for more laws to regulate "network neutrality," which I am against vehemently. I believe that paying for access tiers makes more sense than forcing the market to all stay at a certain level of service for everyone at a flat price. It doesn't make sense to me (neither as a businessman, nor as an individual).

I thought net neutrality was about not discriminating based on who the data is coming from/going to, about not playing favorites.

Hey, Who Announces Ahead of Time... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379181)

Hey, who announces this business strategy ahead of time anyway? Does Google really think that the reserve price won't be met, and that the incumbent telcos will try to steal the publicly owned airwaves at fire sale prices once the reserve isn't bid in the first round? Is Google only doing this to protect the taxpayer's pocketbooks?

I'd like to see Google win this. They are the only hope for some serious competition in this consolidating business of access to the InfoBahn (remember that term that once captured the world's imagination?), but I doubt what's openly announced is their entire strategy.

Overpriced because (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379317)

This is not worldwide, this is just for the USA. A fool and their money is easy parted.

Re:Overpriced because (2, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380773)

Overpriced? you're kidding, the money being talked about so far is a bargain.

The german mobile auction in 2000 raised over $50Bn (at today's exchange rate). The UK auction in 2001 raised £22.5Bn ($45Bn at todays rate)

These auctions are more profitable than wars - well, for the governments involved. Not for the poor suckers who "win" them and then have to find the cash

references:
http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article272264.ece [independent.co.uk] > http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/01-02/0102233es.pdf [nao.org.uk]

Well now that we know how much Google is bidding.. (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379621)

What's there to stop Nokia or someone else from bidding a little more? 4,6 billion dollars is like 20 Euros these days. Cheap as hell for any European company ;)

Why google might want this spectrum so much? (1)

TheRealZeus (1172755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379747)

They might be willing to license it cheap to anyone willing to put the Android on all of their phones.

beam ads directly to brain (2, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379793)

Google engineers discovered a method to beam computer ads directly to ones visual and auditory cortext via radio waves. All they need now is the spectrum to implement it.

OPEN Spectrum, OPEN (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380573)

Sheesh, are all story capsules this bad? Google wants OPEN Spectrum, which anybody is allowed to resell. So they're actually not working against the carriers, they're working to make sure that all carriers can get a piece of the pie.

Besides, Google isn't evil. It's part of their corporate charter, so if Google is ever evil, you could sue their officers for malfeasance.

Good luck defining "evil".

Hopeless underpaid. (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380839)

4.6Billlion for a Band is IMHO to little. And my guess is that google will use it in the "Join the gphone movement, get a share of the cake" game agai... ahem with the the providers. What an asset if you want to kill Iphone 2.0.....

Why, Why, Why??? (0, Troll)

elam (5046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381207)

Is there anyone else that thinks that Eric Schmidt really has no idea what to do next @ Google?

A big mistake... (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381279)

It's clear that Google doesn't have a decent group of hardware / RF engineers guiding this proposal. There's only so much capacity you can squeeze into conventional single antenna handsets, and it's fine for now (i.e. 900 MHz and 1800 MHz do just fine). However, at some point in the near future, people will demand a lot more data throughput that simply cannot be achieved through SISO / SIMO operation.

Cell phone companies will need to migrate to MIMO communications and I assure you, if you manage even two uncorrelated MIMO antennas on a handheld at 700 MHz, you deserve a gold medal. It's a challenge even at 2.4 GHz, but it can be done.

Does anyone know if there are any bands above 2.4 GHz that will be up for purchase in the near future? That's where the money is.

The interesting thing is (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381603)

what are they REALLY going to do with that band? It's a frequency band that can ONLY be used in the US, so it has to be some kind of national service, not a world-wide service.
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