After reportedly piloting his own twin-engine aircraft to this well-known mountain resort town for an evening keynote speech at this year's Progress and Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit, Schmidt wrapped his first public comments about the recent spectrum rulemaking into a wide-ranging talk that championed free speech, open networks and the future of communications infrastructure, the latter of which he called "a national issue" that demands immediate attention.
By taking the lead spotlight at the annual PFF event - which is typically attended by the nation's top communications policymakers, lobbyists and associated influencers - Schmidt cemented his new position as high-tech's leading commentator on telecom issues. "We need to keep the Internet free and open - if it goes the other way, we're going to have a serious problem," Schmidt said to open his remarks. He then said networks are now "at the level of roads and electricity," building an important infrastructure "more quickly than we've ever seen."
Google wants all networks to be open -- especially cellular networks. As I argued last month, Google see this auction as the perfect time to advance open networks in the wireless industry.
Despite what many people claim, I don't think Google wants to be a carrier. They just want the wireless carriers to get with the 21st century. Don't believe me? Here is a glimpse of Google's real agenda:
In his prepared talk, Schmidt championed the defense of free speech, universal broadband access, network neutrality principles and government information transparency as four "call to action" items on Google's to-do list.
This auction is merely a means to an end for Google. Make no mistake about it, as I said last month, Google is gunning to completely change the way the carriers offer mobile Internet access. I suspect that if the carriers move to embrace openness between now and the auction, Google may sit the auction out. But if they do not move in the direction Google wants, then the search giant will participate -- and use any spectrum it acquires as leverage with the carriers in the future.