One-time TLF blogger Brooke Oberwetter (no really, she posted here one time) fretted to me recently that there was no commentary here on the outcome of the recent 700 mhz spectrum auction. Here goes, Brooke:
The way I see it, the result shows that Google has arrived as a Washington player and rent-seeker. It masterfully used the regulatory process to bend the rules in its favor. Rather than buying the spectrum, it managed to convince the FCC to require any buyer to make use of the spectrum in a way that benefits Google.
The $billions in benefits Google’s owners may reap come at the cost of the relatively tiny sum it spent on PR and lobbying. It didn’t have to plunk down any of its big money on spectrum itself. Richard Whitt’s recent post phrased the outcome in terms of benefit to consumers, of course, but its as much self-congratulations for the rewards that will come to Google from his work.
Make no mistake, I believe that an open network will be a better network with more innovation and more interesting uses, but we could have had that same open network if Google had paid full price for the spectrum in an open auction. Instead, Google will reap excess returns from the encumbrance it got placed on the spectrum.
<mild derision>Well played, Google. Welcome to Washington.</mild derision>