Feeds

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

'Duping the FCC'

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.