Will Google be the deus ex machina of 700 MHz?
Apparently Google is not as politically inept as the industry thinks it is: The FCC has ruled that the C Block spectrum in the upcoming 700 MHz auction will have "open access" (any device/any application) rules attached to it, just like Google wanted. Sure, that's only half of what Google asked for, but you always ask for more than you think you're going to get and I think Google did just that.
Google is playing it coy, just as it has from the start. The company's original pledge to bid $4.6 million in the auction if the FCC adopted its four openness rules did not have as much teeth in it as was assumed at the time. Google's senior counsel Richard Whitt explained the nuances of that pledge in a conference call following the FCC meeting yesterday: Whitt noted that the company never said it wouldn't bid if its four openness rules weren't adopted for the C Block of the spectrum auction. Google just said that it would bid if they were. Whitt, however, cautioned that the company needs to review the details of the FCC's plan once they come out in full during the course of the next few weeks before the company can make any definitive decisions.
The FCC also gave consumers the right to file formal complaints against carriers who violate the open access rules. Whitt indicated that Martin's initial proposal lacked these protocols for enforcement of the open access measures and that their inclusion in the final docket is a big win for Google.
So is Google in a better place than it was before? "Based on where we thought we were, we are in better shape," Whitt said on the call, "because they took our Carter phone principles and they beefed up [the open access rules] a bit with some enforcement capabilities."
Did Google get all that it asked for? No. Did it get more than it had expected? Probably. Will Google participate in the auction? I think so. Do you? -Brian