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So, Did Google Win Or Lose The Spectrum Auction?

Google did not come away from the FCC 700-MHz spectrum auction with any licenses. It did, however, force Verizon Wireless to spend $4.74 billion and trigger the open access provisions to a massive block of spectrum that covers most of the country. With those provisions, and Verizon's own "Any Device" initiative, that leaves the door wide open for the Android platform.
Google did not come away from the FCC 700-MHz spectrum auction with any licenses. It did, however, force Verizon Wireless to spend $4.74 billion and trigger the open access provisions to a massive block of spectrum that covers most of the country. With those provisions, and Verizon's own "Any Device" initiative, that leaves the door wide open for the Android platform.Stifel Nicolaus analyst Blair Levin said Google was the "happy loser" of the spectrum auction, because it forced the open access provisions. Google had this to say about the auction:


This afternoon the Federal Communications Commission announced the results of its 700-MHz spectrum auction. While the Commission's anti-collusion rules prevent us from saying much at this point, one thing is clear: although Google didn't pick up any spectrum licenses, the auction produced a major victory for American consumers.

We congratulate the winners and look forward to a more open wireless world. As a result of the auction, consumers whose devices use the C-block of spectrum soon will be able to use any wireless device they wish, and download to their devices any applications and content they wish. Consumers soon should begin enjoying new, Internet-like freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices.

We'll have more to say about the auction in the near future. Stay tuned.

So Google feels that American consumers won a major victory? That opinion is not shared by some analysts, who were hoping for a bigger variety of spectrum winners. Instead, the two largest wireless firms in the nation added to their bulk and power. In some respects, this means less choice in the long run for consumers.

As reported back before the auction begun, Google never intended to win the spectrum in the first place. There's just no way it was really going to make the investment to build and operate a wireless network on its own. Google is an ad company, not a network company. Running a network would be too far a departure from its core competencies. But by bidding in the auction, Google forced Verizon to shell out the cash necessary to grant open access to devices and applications on portions of the spectrum.

Google will be all too happy to provide those devices and applications with its forthcoming Android platform. Google may not have won spectrum, but it won the right to use Verizon's spectrum. In the end, that's all Google probably wanted.