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Lawmakers point fingers at Google in 700 MHz auction.

With the record-setting 700 MHz officially closed and out of the way, lawmakers have instead chosen to focus their attention on some of the auction’s more minute details: “why didn’t the D-block sell?” ask some.

Did Google game the auction in order to ensure it had access to spectrum?” ask others.

Lead by U.S. Representatives Cliff Stearns and John Shimkis, lawmakers suggested that Google “out-maneuvered” the FCC by bidding for the open-access “C” block in order to meet its reserve, fully expecting another company to outbid it – and that’s exactly what happened.

Google officials, writing in an April 3 blog post on the 700 MHz auction, somewhat confirmed Congress’ suspicions: “Google's top priority heading into the auction was to make sure that bidding on the so-called ‘C Block’ reached the $4.6 billion reserve price,” it says, “[in order to] trigger the important ‘open applications’ and ‘open handsets’ license conditions.”

Google says it helped increase U.S. treasury funds, noting that it upped its bid in ten of the bidding rounds -- even when it was only bidding against itself -- in an effort to meet the FCC’s $4.6 billion reserve price.

Stearns accused Google of manipulating the FCC, and the FCC of setting the reserve in a way that allowed Google a “free ride” on the C block. An effort by Google to, perhaps, sustain the Open Handset Alliance and provide a home for its open-source Android mobile phone OS.

“I suspect that if Google had been interested in more than just maneuvering within the system, it could have prevailed in the C block and become a new [wireless] entrant,” said Stearns, speaking to the House of Representatives’ Subcomittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. “I suppose we cannot blame them for trying to get free access to the spectrum; what is more concerning is, that even though we knew what they were doing, we let them maneuver this way anyway.”

The C block’s open access requirement stifled bidding, said Stearns, who cited a number of estimates that said the government could have earned up to $30 billion had it not set Google’s requirements.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who many consider as the one responsible for getting the open-access requirements approved, disagreed with the House subcommittee: “Our goal, in adopting the openness conditions, was not to prohibit someone else from winning, but to actually [require] whoever won that spectrum to have an open platform.”

Martin’s behavior – particularly with decisions regarding the 700 MHz auction and the ongoing Comcast debacle – earned him a spot in hot water, with staffers and lawmakers alike accusing him of wielding dictatorial powers.

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Quality of Joualism very low.
By Flunk on 4/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By ioKain on 4/18/2008 1:22:16 AM , Rating: 2
What would some people do if they couldn't bitch? Btw, love the pic for the story.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By Ashrac on 4/18/2008 1:46:29 AM , Rating: 5
This is a blog post. It is not the Wall Street Journal. Loosen up, lighten up, and enjoy some humor.

By rdeegvainl on 4/18/2008 9:02:15 AM , Rating: 5
Oh they used a word that isn't really a real word in a blog title. Somebody call the Waaambulance!!!!

By MrBlastman on 4/18/2008 9:25:03 AM , Rating: 3
by Flunk on April 18, 2008 at 1:13 AM
Congratulations, you have brought this site to a new level of poor quality journalism. "Waaambulance" is not a word, nor something most people would even say. It should certainly not be written on a news site, even in a blog post.

The professionalism on this site is heading toward the toilet.

Someone call the Waaaaaaaaambulance! on this guy, I think his humor has gone into temporary diabetic coma. Stat!

It's a tech news site dude, lots of geeks read the news here, and I believe the title is appropriately placed in geek humor context.

By Sulphademus on 4/18/2008 9:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
I see that youre not a gamer.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By wordsworm on 4/18/2008 10:48:31 AM , Rating: 2
What the heck is Joualism? Is it some kind of fibrous material that helps one defaecate?

By MrBlastman on 4/18/2008 11:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
If you're lactose intolerant as the picture for the article might suggest...

It very well could have that effect :) Albeit slightly runny...

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By masher2 on 4/18/2008 11:35:58 AM , Rating: 5
> "Waaambulance" is not a word"

Every single word in the English language today wasn't one at some point. They became words by authors and others coining them, then using them until they gained sufficient popularity.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By johnsonx on 4/18/2008 12:09:11 PM , Rating: 3
Somehow I'm not envisioning 'waaambulance' making it into the Oxford English Dictionary any time soon.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By masher2 on 4/18/2008 1:47:24 PM , Rating: 3
Well, "ginormous", "smackdown" and "ohnosecond" have all recently made their way into the dictionary. I don't think "Waambulance" is that far-fetched.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By christojojo on 4/18/2008 8:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
Masher nothing hurts me more than to say the following phrase.

"You are right." *To make it worse on both posts to boot. ;) *

*fades to black as jojo dies*

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By kenji4life on 4/20/2008 5:29:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm appalled. Nobody has offered Flunk some cheese to compliment his whine.

RE: Quality of Joualism very low.
By DanoruX on 4/20/2008 12:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
People are too busy calling the waaambulance on him.

By MrBlastman on 4/21/2008 9:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
Flunk... flunked?

And your point is?
By ziggo on 4/17/2008 9:54:35 PM , Rating: 4
What exactly did they do that was so wrong? I am sure they wouldn't have been able to withdraw their bid if nobody outbid them, and having an open access requirement was worth the reserve price to Google. Just because they got outbid and won on all fronts by having the requirements but not having to administer the network they did something wrong? The FCC should have taken their (lower) bid to "punish" them for interfering?

Cliff Stearns must have been elected by some hanging chad. He obviously can't form a logical thought.

RE: And your point is?
By lagitup on 4/19/2008 2:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly they were attempting to manipulate the FCC for their own gain. Never mind that Google is open about it (im sure somewhere someone besides Google threw lobbyists at FCC), because they clearly rigged it. If you have a problem with that logic than you can ride your own waambulance! to Guantanamo bay.

RE: And your point is?
By killerroach on 4/21/2008 9:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. So Google bid up the price. So what? Verizon still bought the block for a higher price, knowing that the open-access requirements would be on it. If it were really that onerous, they wouldn't have bid once Google put it up to that $4.7 billion threshold.

RE: And your point is?
By theapparition on 4/23/2008 9:35:34 AM , Rating: 2
The congressman's deluded point was that if Google hadn't convinced the FCC to add open access requirements, Verizon would have instead bid up to $30 billion for a closed network instead of $4.7 billion for an open one............and if you believe that one, I have a really nice piece of land near Lake Okeechobee to sell you. Not swampy at all!

RE: And your point is?
By beckster02 on 4/21/2008 5:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
If I understand it right, Google cut a deal with the FCC saying "We'll make a $4.6 billion bid if you promise that whoever owns the block of frequencies allows third party devices to operate on those frequencies." The FCC agreed, Google started bidding, and then let Verizon outbid them.

What's the point? The point is (correct me if I'm wrong) that Google's mobile phone can now legally operate in that band of frequencies (because of the open access deal it made with the FCC), even though it's actually owned by Verizon. Google can use those frequencies and it didn't have to pay a dime.

RE: And your point is?
By glitchc on 4/22/2008 12:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
The point is, it's not just Google that can use those frequencies.

Did I read this right?
By fr0mundach33se on 4/17/2008 8:27:03 PM , Rating: 5
Google "C" Blocked the FCC?

Public 1 - Government 10000
By NullSubroutine on 4/17/2008 11:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
So the congress person is complaining because they goverenment didnt get an additional 20billion because google bid?

I don't see how its bad considering this open platform will be better fo the consumers and the public at large. I expect that if Google had won the auction they still would have paid and built an infrastructure for their platform, so there is no foul.

Google's bidding basically allows the companies in that C block to be open and thus more competitive and no more 'locked phones' and other various limitations that allows cell phone companies to have a monoploly on their services and screw their customers.

RE: Public 1 - Government 10000
By mattclary on 4/18/2008 8:43:31 AM , Rating: 2
And I suspect that we got as much or more money from the auction than had Google not bid. Verizon knows they are going to make bank with this spectrum regardless of having to provide access.

By phxfreddy on 4/18/2008 5:03:15 AM , Rating: 2
The gov has bleed us white and the dollar is dropping like a rock and WE don't give them enough. Grandma's playing her tired old saw again! She's really good on that thing...she can make it weep.

By mattclary on 4/17/08, Rating: 0
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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