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Free Voice and Data From The Google Network?

by Sachin Balagopalan on July 22, 2007 · Comments

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Millions of Americans could change the way they utilize their cell phones and the way they access the internet on their mobile devices. The old 700MHz wireless spectrum (UHF band), which is being vacated by the television stations as they convert to digital broadcast, is up for auction by the federal government early next year.

The blogosphere is inundated with opinions and comments on this latest attempt by Google to once again “put it’s money where it’s mouth is”. To me out of the four conditions outlined by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in his letter to the FCC Chairman, the second one “Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer” is going to be the key factor that will determine the way we Americans use our handheld devices in the future. If the FCC agrees to adopt this platform, you can walk into a BestBuy or a CircuitCity or any other store in the future and buy a wireless device and CHOOSE the carrier you deem fit for your needs instead of being forced to use a specific carrier based on the device you selected. Not only that, once you have purchased your wireless device you can switch carriers without incurring those pesky early termination fees and keep the same phone as well. When was the last time the consumer had that kind of control over the wireless carriers in America! As I eluded to in my recent posts Americans are bound to their networks based on the devices they select and it looks like we are seeing the beginnings of a shift from that.

Amid a lot of speculation as to what mobile services the company is planning to offer, Google has been circumspect about their strategy with regards to mobile. However it is not out of the realm of possibility if Google indeed wins the auction (assuming the FCC mandates the four conditions proposed by Google) they could potentially have their own wireless broadband network competing against CDMA and GSM/GPRS which will no doubt be heavily subsidized by Google’s ad machine. If that happens, based on Google’s track record with their existing services we could possibly be looking at free voice and data service on our wireless devices as long as we’re on the Google network. Now that would definitely change the way Americans use their mobile devices :) .

Whether or not Google enters into the carrier business it is high time we get rid of the “Ma Bell” legacy. Right now it is at the carriers discretion to decide what factory features are enabled or disabled on the devices. It is high time the power shifts to the customer and let the them decide what network they want their device to work on.

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