Feeds

Google's Great American Wireless Auction 'game' annoys US lawmakers

'Duping the FCC'

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Several US lawmakers are annoyed that Google was allowed to "game" the recent 700-MHz wireless auction.

Speaking today on Capitol Hill, during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, multiple Congressmen complained that the FCC's auction rules didn't force the world's largest search engine to make a real go at winning the 700-MHz "C Block," a prime portion of the US airwaves.

In auctioning off the coveted C Block, the FCC agreed to attach an open access requirement if bidding reached a $4.6bn reserve price. Google took the auction past this magic threshold without actually winning the spectrum, and the Mountain View outfit has admitted that winning was not its top priority.

"Google's top priority heading into the auction was to make sure that bidding on the so-called 'C Block' reached the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the important 'open applications' and 'open handsets' license conditions," two Google lawyers wrote on The Official Google Rhetoric Blog.

Representative Cliff Sterns, a Florida Republican, complained that Google didn't have enough incentive to give the big-name telcos a real run for their money. The C Block eventually went to Verizon, while AT&T won separate swaths of the 700-MHz band.

"The FCC's conditions allowed companies such as Google to free ride rather than seriously challenge a bid to AT&T and Verizon," Sterns said. "I suspect that if Google had been interested in more than just maneuvering within the system, it could have prevailed in the C Block and become a new entree[sic].

"I suppose we can not really blame them for trying to get free access to the spectrum," he continued. "What is more concerning is that even though we knew what they were doing, we let them maneuver this way anyway."

This view was echoed by other Republicans who prefer, shall we say, limited government regulation. This includes John Shimkus, of Illinois, and Fred Upton, of Michigan. "Google, by its own admission, was successful in gaming the system to achieve its goals without having to purchase a spectrum block or build out the network," Upton said.

"Google is one of the richest companies in the country with a market cap of $140bn dollars. That's $40bn more than Verizon. Google was in striking distance of Verizon's winning bid, yet Google never even attempted to top it. Without an open access rules, Google would have had more incentive to win the auction."

Then Shimkus directly confronted the FCC over the issue. "Do you believe Google was simply gaming the system and duping the commission during the auction?" he asked. "I think Google tried to gain [open] access without having to really pay for deployment."

But FCC chair Kevin Martin said he was more than happy with the way things played out. The commission's main objective, he said, was to open the US airwaves to any device and any application. "Our goal, in adopting the openness conditions, was not to prohibit someone else from winning, but to actually [require] whoever won that spectrum to have an open platform."

We're with Martin on this one. If the FCC hadn't established an open access requirement, Verizon would have won the spectrum anyway - whatever its market cap. And it wouldn't have opened the thing up on its own.

Sometimes Google games are a good thing. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.