It’s official – Google announced they are applying on Monday to participate in FCC auction 73 for coveted 700 Mhz spectrum. We’ve talked before about a world in which Google is a competitor in the telecom service provider realm. It’s enough to send shivers up the back of some existing service provider execs. Of course, just applying for participation in the auction doesn’t necessarily translate into providing service in the future. Google very well may change their mind, lose during the auction process, or get the spectrum and do little with it. It’s simply too early to predict what the long term prospects are for Google’s wireless aspirations. But it’s always fun to speculate.
I for one think Google has no intention of becoming a service provider themselves. Rather, I see them packaging up a solution set, which includes spectrum, the Android operating system, and of course a mobile search/advertising engine, and making it available to current and potential service providers. In effect, a wholesale Google powered wireless product, offered to whoever has the wherewithal to provide wireless service. I recognize there are some regulatory hurdles to such a scenario, unless Google pursues the D block spectrum, which has more favorable wholesale rules. Whatever strategy Google pursues, should they come to market with a viable wireless offering (wholesale or not), it certainly will have numerous competitive implications, many of which are impossible to see today.