The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week said that it would meet at least some of Google's open access requirements for a portion of the radio spectrum that's currently up for auction. This partial victory for the Internet search giant means could result in more competition in the cell phone market in the US, leading to lower prices and better services for consumers.
Google, as you may recall, had requested that the FCC enact four policy requirements for the spectrum. In effect, the FCC has agreed to two of Google's four requirements. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said the agency supported Google's call to allow consumers to use any device or any software they want on the networks that will be created from the spectrum, opening up a wide range of services possibilities.
But the FCC will not agree to Google's requirement that requires the company that wins the auction for the spectrum to sell off portions of it at wholesale, which would result in lower prices and, Google believes, more competition and innovation in the cell phone market. The FCC also did not agree to Google's "open networks" requirement, which might have created a new broadband Internet access point in the US.
Today, wireless carriers in the US, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, do not allow their subscribers to use any devices on their networks and instead restrict users to a subset of available phones, services, and software. Because of this, consumers in the US receive new cellular technologies far more slowly than in other markets, especially those in Europe and Asia. US subscribers also pay more for their cellular services.
While the FCC will not meet all of Google's requirements, the company says it may still bid at least $4.6 billion for the spectrum, which his expected to generate at least $15 billion in revenues for the US government. The auction is expected to begin before the end of January 2008.