Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reviewing the recent 700MHz auction chatter

Awaiting the 700MHz wireless spectrum auction, which begins on 24 January, is a bit like waiting for the Super Bowl. There's endless speculation, story-making, background, and then it's finally game time.

On second thought, it's like waiting for the Super Bowl if you are one of the probably 10,000 or fewer wireless fanatics out there. For everyone else, it's more like waiting for nothing at all.

At any rate, apologies to the millions who don't care about the spectrum auctions, and on to the recent chatter:

Harold Feld on Wetmachine discusses Google's motivations for bidding in the auction. While there has been some speculation that Google is simply bluffing, Harold is certain Google will participate and win. I agree with him.

Some of this speculation results from analysts' puzzlement over what Google will do with the spectrum, given that their business is as far from a network operator as you can get. To me, Google's strategy is very simple: win the auction, then lease the spectrum to people who will adopt Google-friendly (euphemism: "open") access rules for content providers.

Ike Elliott, on Telecosm, forecasts that Google winning spectrum will accelerate the development of the mobile VoIP market. As a hard-core Skyper, I'm rooting for that outcome.

Chetan Sharma in GigaOM describes the uneasy alliance/battle between network operators and media companies, which the auction results will affect.

For those interested in arcane mathematical models, Caltech rode on the coattails of the 700MHz auction hype to issue a press release describing how one of its professors created the bidding approach that the auction will use.

Finally, Rhonda Wickham, in Wireless Week, talks about the possibility that the auction may turn out to be a lot less spectacular than the anticipation would warrant.

On reflection, maybe it's not so different from the Super Bowl after all.

(Photo: "Countryside Auction" from jansun via stock.xchng)

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