Saturday, July 21, 2007

Google Pushes for Rules to Aid Wireless Plans


If Google succeeds with federal regulators, it could change the way millions of Americans use their cellphones and how they connect to the Internet on their wireless devices.

In the Internet giant’s view of the future, consumers would buy a wireless phone at a store, but instead of being forced to use a specific carrier, they would be free to pick any carrier they wanted. Instead of the wireless carrier choosing what software goes on their phones, users would be free to put any software they want on it. ...

There might even be a Google phone.

That vision, according to several analysts, is the reason Google said yesterday that it would bid upward of $4.6 billion for a swath of the nation’s airwaves, which are set to be auctioned by the federal government next year — as long as certain conditions are met.

But Google’s efforts to position itself on the side of the consumer are also part of a fierce lobbying battle that pits it and other tech companies against wireless carriers, who oppose conditions that Google wants to set on the winners of the auction. Verizon Wireless has called the conditions “corporate welfare for Google.” And AT&T rejected Google’s latest effort, calling it an “all or nothing ultimatum.” ...

“When you go to Best Buy to buy a TV, they don’t ask whether you have cable or satellite,” said Blair Levin, a former F.C.C. official who is now an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Company. “When you buy a computer, they don’t ask what kind of Internet service you have, and the computer can run any application or service. That doesn’t exist in the wireless world. That’s where Google wants to go with this auction.”

So not everyone out there loves or trusts Google. But given a choice between Google and the existing cell phone companies?

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