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Could Google's phone run on a Google-provided wireless network?

It seems that Google may not be content with merely playing a co-star in the mobile market presentation. Not even two weeks after the introduction of their Android operating system, and offers of $10 million USD in bounties for software, it seems that the Californian colossus is preparing a bid of $4.6 billion USD or more for a piece of the soon-to-be-free 700MHz wireless spectrum -- and what's more, they're apparently planning on making this bid on their own.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is working at a frantic pace to ensure that they will be prepared to declare their intent to bid on the 700MHz wireless spectrum to be put up for auction by the FCC in January 2008. Google's interest lies primarily in the open-access "C block" of the spectrum, a highly coveted section that could be enough to garner them a potential share in some of the $95 billion USD in revenue generated by US wireless carriers in 2007.

According to inside sources, Android-powered handsets are already running on a 700MHz network (granted under a temporary FCC license) at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. While Google has no background as a wireless provider, their vast networking background could no doubt allow them to quickly become a very significant threat to established US telecommunications companies. This is beneficial not just because of the fact that another potential carrier would be available, but from the nature of Google and the Open Handset Alliance's "mission statement" to make wireless communication more open, and to sidestep the problems of carriers charging for specific services or features.

Of course, the plans for the 700MHz spectrum may be far beyond a simple mobile handset -- due to the ability of the frequency to travel long distances with relatively little power, it could be used to provide rural areas with broadband Internet access.

What plans Google has will unfold shortly, but with the sudden whirlwind of activity regarding mobile communications, executives at AT&T and Verizon -- two other major prospective bidders for the spectrum -- are no doubt more than a little worried about the prospect of the "gPhone" becoming a reality.

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for the Android
By dcalfine on 11/16/07, Rating: 0
RE: for the Android
By FITCamaro on 11/16/2007 11:04:29 AM , Rating: 1
Blanket statements like this are retarded.

RE: for the Android
By omnicronx on 11/16/2007 11:11:44 AM , Rating: 2
Hes not that far off though..
Of course, the plans for the 700MHz spectrum may be far beyond a simple mobile handset -- due to the ability of the frequency to travel long distances with relatively little power
Essentially what i get from this, is whoever gets the 700Mhz frequency will be able to operate at a much cheaper price as the hardware will probably be cheaper, and will cost less to operate.

RE: for the Android
By euclidean on 11/16/2007 12:05:07 PM , Rating: 2
when towers cost a couple million to put up...or is it 250K? either way, when they're expensive as hell to put up, only having to put up about half of the needed towers to offer great service would be insane on price cuts....not to mention being able to cover more areas that are currently un-reachable....

RE: for the Android
By BVT on 11/16/2007 4:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
Do not forget that they do not have to put up new towers. All of the current TV towers are in the optimum location for transmitting to the surrounding locations. They could rent/lease the TV towers and only put up new towers between the leased towers to ensure a proper signal in the weak zones

RE: for the Android
By TomZ on 11/16/2007 5:21:49 PM , Rating: 1
Good point, but most likely they would lease space on the exising cell phone towers, since they are ideally located for cell phone use (e.g., near highways).

RE: for the Android
By FastLaneTX on 11/17/2007 3:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
Of course they have to put up new towers, or lease space on existing towers. The reason there's so many cell towers all over the place is because of capacity, not range; a given cell can only support so much traffic, so more users (or more bandwidth per user) means you need to shrink the cells.

700MHz is also not a major improvement in range; AMPS (the US's old analog network) was in the 800MHz band and GSM started on 900MHz. The cell networks moved to 1900MHz (US) and 1800MHz (everywhere else) because they ran out of capacity and wanted the smaller cells inherent to higher frequencies. At most, it would provide marginally better coverage in rural areas.

The key question is what kind of modulation/access is going to be used in the new band. Will it be some variant of UMTS? CDMA? WiMax? Something new, optimized for data? That, more than anything else, will signal what Google's plans are if they win.

RE: for the Android
By FITCamaro on 11/16/2007 1:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but to say that the wireless divisions of Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will go out of business if Google gets the 700MHz spectrum is nothing but fud.

If it came down to it, they'd just license the 700MHz spectrum from Google.

RE: for the Android
By Sahrin on 11/16/2007 1:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like the irony doesn't fall far from the tree.

RE: for the Android
By dcalfine on 11/16/2007 11:17:24 AM , Rating: 3
I was keeping it simple, but I somewhat agree with Don Reisinger of CNET on this

RE: for the Android
By darkpaw on 11/16/2007 1:59:04 PM , Rating: 4
Google in league with Apple to take over the wireless world?

Oh damn that would suck.

RE: for the Android
By DallasTexas on 11/16/2007 11:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
What is the first generation of gPhone?

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: for the Android
By Chris Peredun on 11/16/2007 11:52:38 AM , Rating: 5
Stupid Google doesn't know what on earth it is doing.

Why yes, you're absolutely correct. Google must simply be throwing that $4.6 billion-plus away without any prior planning whatsoever. They certainly haven't been scheming at some manner of communications device for years.

And looking at their history, all of their ventures outside their initial realm of simply being a search engine have been utter failures financially and socially.

Have you ever considered a career as a professional business consultant?


RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: for the Android
By Chris Peredun on 11/16/2007 12:10:43 PM , Rating: 3
While there is a very high entry cost, it's certainly not the "$40 billion" you're estimating - in the WSJ article itself, the number $3 billion came up from an industry analyst.

They want to get Android handsets in the hands of the public and control the network - and even the cheapest company on your list, Alltel, is worth $22 billion, so making their own network is cheaper and better.

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/07, Rating: 0
RE: for the Android
By wrekd on 11/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: for the Android
By wrekd on 11/16/2007 12:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
At this point, perhaps Android is more of a business model than a product. But anything that shakes the foundations of big, long established business is a good thing. Even if it amounts to nothing other than stimulating the Telco’s into adapting their business models.

How long did it take Netflix to dismantle Blockbusters business model?

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/2007 3:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
Netflix was distribution idea. It works great. Redbox is taking a big bite out of Netflix now, because they have better prices, very convenient locations, and $1 day rentals.

The Android business model is simple. Additional subsidy of the device in exchange for advertising space.

Think back to when PeoplePC first came out. Free PC, but you had adds running constantly on your desktop. This was ages ago and failed miserably. Do you really think someone who uses a Blackberry or Treo now is really that interested in exchanging a hundred bucks for having to look at adds every time you use your phone?

Besides, a regular user on a typical 2 year upgrade schedule that also gets the data package isn't going to pay that much for the device.

RE: for the Android
By darkpaw on 11/16/2007 5:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the people currently using BBs and Treos also don't pay for them themselves. I think this is really targeted more at the consumer market then a traditional smart phone.

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/2007 10:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
The consumers want something smallish and simple to use. Just what new features does Google have in mind? There is nothing innately superior about using Linux as a platform. My point is that Google is not offering anything new. They are just trying to stuff their advertising empire onto a new screen. And Smartphones are already cheap. At Verizon with New Every 2, getting a data product, and a mail in rebate - Only the most expensive PDAs cost more than $50-100. That isn't that much money.

RE: for the Android
By Spuke on 11/17/2007 11:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
Redbox is taking a big bite out of Netflix now

RE: for the Android
By FITCamaro on 11/16/2007 1:25:35 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know what Android will offer? Yes the SDK is out and honestly, it's pretty nice when you run some of the sample code and see what they've already got there in the emulator. But it wouldn't be hard for Android to achieve the same functionality of the iPhone. And with the entire world potentially as a development base, who knows what will come out for it.

And the iPhone is hardly the ideal phone. Locked into a single network. No ability to change out the battery on your own. No custom app support yet. And locked into Apple's iOwnYourAss mentality.

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/2007 3:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
I used the iPhone as an example of a new idea bringing a new player into the industry. Apple is just a supplier and they get a premium price and kickback of data revenue. Great business plan, but the device isn't perfect.

To the user it doesn't matter if it is programmed for Linux, Free BSD, or Server 2008. They just want the application to work. This actually may be more of a threat to BREW. Which isn't necessarily a bad idea. Qualcom needs a good kick.

The best parts of iPhone require hardware or network support. Having the large touchscreen added a few bucks. The UI is very smooth and intuitive. The visual voicemail is carrier dependent. When you really boil it down, Google is introducing a new O/S. That makes them just like Palm (Treo), Microsoft (PPC), Blackberry, or Apple. All of those vendors, except Apple, sell to almost every carrier. Google is taking these actions because not only do they want sell the phones, they want them all to display adds sent from Google. The carriers aren't going to allow that unless they get a big cut. Google doesn't want to, so they are antagonizing the carriers by make claims to want to buy spectrum. Again as I said before, spectrum is useless without a network and I don't see Google building 40,000 towers anytime soon.

RE: for the Android
By masher2 on 11/16/2007 12:14:17 PM , Rating: 3
> "$40 billion to build towers..."

Err, according to published estimates, more like $2B. A single 700mhz tower can cover almost 10X the area of one at 2.4 GHZ.

> "Also, 700mhz is not very good for data"

From a physics perspective, 700mhz is ideal for data. It has excellent propagation and penetration characteristics. It's a very wide block of spectrum too, so despite the lower frequency, it has a lot of bandwidth.

RE: for the Android
By mcnabney on 11/16/2007 4:09:48 PM , Rating: 3
For coverage:

1 700mhz tower = 4 1900mhz = 10 2.4ghz

And Google is talking about spending $4.7 billion for one 12mhz chunk in the 700mhz range.

For data, that is only going to allow about 10 megabits of shared connectivity for all devices being serviced by that tower. Did you hear that.

Everyone for 1000 square miles (the total range) is going to have to share the equivalent of one good cable modem connection.

As I mentioned before. Not good for data. 700mhz is great for range, but it is a thin pipe that runs a long way.

RE: for the Android
By masher2 on 11/17/2007 9:40:56 AM , Rating: 3
> "1 700mhz tower = 4 1900mhz = 10 2.4ghz"

Which is exactly what I said.

> "one 12mhz only going to allow about 10 megabits "

No. Companies are *already* using 700 mhz spectrum to provide speeds well above this. Take a look at Vyyo's radio modem, which provides a 30mbit downstream connection in only 9mhz of spectrum (UHF C plus a couple guard bands). This equipment is already deployed by many telcos servicing highly spread-out rural areas.

If you're thiknking the 700 mhz spectrum will be a competitor to ultrahighspeed broadband being deployed in urban areas for adhoc on-demand Internet access. That's not going to happen, obviously. But the frequencies are still enormously valuable, and companies like Google, Cyren, AT&T, and the dozens of others who have shown interest, realize that.

RE: for the Android
By Spuke on 11/17/2007 11:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
Leave it to masher to present facts without the "chicken with its head cut off" hysteria.

RE: for the Android
By winterspan on 11/16/07, Rating: 0
RE: for the Android
By Cygni on 11/16/2007 12:04:11 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, 1 slice of spectrum and a Linux based mobile phone OS will put 4 of the worlds largest companies... with 300 thousand employees, combined revenue in excess of $150 billion a year, and the lions share of the worlds communications infrastructure... out of business.

In other words, No.

RE: for the Android
By euclidean on 11/16/2007 12:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
Who ever said they wanted the spectrum for cell phone/pda use?

Of course, the plans for the 700MHz spectrum may be far beyond a simple mobile handset -- due to the ability of the frequency to travel long distances with relatively little power, it could be used to provide rural areas with broadband Internet access.

maybe, just maybe they're doing something different with it...

Also, Google isn't stupid, and neither are the people running it...they have something planned for that little slice, even if their creating a mobile phone OS, doesn't mean this spectrum (tiny piece of it anyways)their bidding on is going to be used for Cell Phone service...

RE: for the Android
By Cygni on 11/16/2007 12:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
uh, why did you reply to my post with that? It seems better suited for the OP.

RE: for the Android
By robertgu2k on 11/16/2007 2:28:51 PM , Rating: 3
Why would gphones using 700mhz band or Google winning the bid put existing carriers out of business?

Other phone makers can make phones for the 700mhz band just as easily. Additionally there are more than one chunk of 700mhz band blocks available for bidding. So even if google wins one of the bids, other carriers will win the remaining chunks and will be able to provide service; taking advantage of the lower inherent costs of 700mhz (in theory 700mhz requires fewer towers to cover an area) service to their customers.

I'd use it
By FITCamaro on 11/16/2007 10:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
I'd use their service provided their plans are competitive. But you know they will be. Of course we'll probably be on Verizon for a while since even if Google did offer their own service, its going to take a little while to get it up and running.

RE: I'd use it
By kenji4life on 11/17/2007 9:02:39 AM , Rating: 1
Google is a trailblazer. Unique, superior search tech, superior free email, it makes sense that at the rate they are moving, this next step will be just as large in comparison.

I can imagine a flat fee of 50 bucks for "service". This would be a "cell phone" which has full internet access, email, texts, etc included. That kind of step would be a revolution in wireless. T-Mobile would be the closest competitor and companies like Verizon who charge increasing fees for every tiny little service will be forced to adjust their plan. I think Verizon will be able to compete, as they have shown in their internet division that they can play ball.

I would switch to Google real quick, if they offer something that noone can match. cellular + high speed cellular internet for one low price anyone?

I've ben saying it all along....
By phaxmohdem on 11/16/2007 11:09:30 AM , Rating: 1
Google is run by the Cylons, and allowing them access to the all this airspace will only help them coordinate their worldwide android attack.


By omnicronx on 11/16/2007 3:28:34 PM , Rating: 2
what have you ben saying?

A 700MHz Spectrum - OMG!
By Eric Adams on 11/17/2007 2:13:38 PM , Rating: 3
My original ZX Spectrum ran at 3.5MHz

$4.6 Billion for a 700MHz Spectrum is a bargain ;-)

By Murst on 11/16/2007 10:39:28 AM , Rating: 2
I'm by no means a google fan (I like their gmail and search, but don't really care for the other apps), however, having another company enter the wireless/broadband business can only be good for the consumer. If google wins this auction, then great. If another non-telecom wins it, great also.

The only way I could see this auction as a failure for the consumers is if a telecom wins the auction - and that is still a very probable situation.

From a business side, this also seems like a very good move by google. They will not survive forever simply on ad revenue. There's so much competition in the search market, and it's very bad for google as a business to have one source of income. Sure, its great when it works, but it will not work forever. Others will catch up. Having the license to this frequency would almost guarantee google a solid revenue stream for years to come.

My needs are simple
By rupaniii on 11/16/2007 10:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
I just want a XOHM version of the Nokia n810.
With that, i can have a regular phone for calls and a real nice screen and keyboard for mobile office duties.
I have a PPC6700, and i'm a big guy. Us big guy's get ignored. Not everything smaller is better. Screens in particular. I need to SEE spreadsheets on the go.
800pixels across is fine, 320 across doesn't to me any good. I also dig that slider keyboard design. So, i have the PPC for that. But, our stuff works fine with open office, so, i could use an 810 in a XOHM area. I don't even need wimax, but, if i can get that, that would work.

Google 700mhz
By smiti64 on 11/16/2007 1:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
Is there any way Google can tie the 700mhz band in with GrandCentral which google now owns?

By phaxmohdem on 11/16/2007 6:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
In Soviet Russia, 700 Megahertz YOU!

By bbomb on 11/16/2007 9:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
What is so special about 700Mhz that all these companies are dying for it?

poor apple
By lompocus on 11/16/2007 7:44:35 PM , Rating: 1
the iphone just died a silent death. Google can now pack a bajillion more super advanced feature on the g-phone + android. Won't be like apple...but I'd much rather trade a few motion-sensitive gizmos and gadgets for almost free phone internet and a plethora of other things.

That's when hacking apple's iTouch comes in. google still can't totally pwn apple :P.

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