One of the privileges of being a tech darling with a more than $140 billion market capitalization is that you get to throw that weight around and influence the direction of entire industries. Search king Google
But now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ended the latest U.S. wireless spectrum auction, it's come to light that Google didn't end up winning any bids for spectrum. Once again, Verizon
So is Google really a winner here? Well, it did avoid paying more than $4.6 billion for a block of spectrum that is designated for "open access" -- where users can theoretically activate any device and any software application. At the same time, it succeeded in pushing the FCC and Verizon to adopt open-access policies and commit to supporting third-party devices and applications for its customers.
But while Verizon's vision of open access is still in the formative stages, any voluntary policies will no doubt be set up to favor Verizon -- not outside solutions from providers like Google. And while the top wireless providers service hundreds of millions of U.S. customers, it's likely only a very small percentage will venture into applications that don't have the backing and support of their carrier.
More certain winners from the auction are the government, which is nearly $20 billion richer. Qualcomm
But it'll take more time to tell whether Google won anything other than a pyrrhic victory. Verizon and AT&T will be paying billions to offer lucrative future services, but Google certainly won't get any share of that lunch for free.
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