Sunday, July 29, 2007

Google wants the FCC to bring the entire Internet to your cell phone

We have contrasted a "dumb," end-to-end network like the Internet, where services are provided by network users, with a "smart" network, where services are provided by the network operator. In two earlier posts, we saw that Tim Wu and business customers have argued that the cellular networks should move to the open, Internet model.

Google has now joined the fray, saying they would bid on the spectrum that will be made available for auction by the FCC when the US converts to all digital television transmission in 2009 if the following were mandated by the FCC:

  • Users should be able to install any software on their phones and PDAs
  • Users should be able to connect any technically compatible device to the network
  • Auction winners should be able to resell bandwidth to third parties
  • The wireless network should connect to other networks
Of course cell phone companies are opposed to this sort of thing. Holy cow -- someone might install Skype on their smart phone and make VOIP calls or download a video from a Web site that was not paying the cell carrier a commission. The cell system is like the early telephone system. Before the 1968 Carterphone decision, we could not connect things to the telephone network -- not modems or computers or even answering machines.

Respected columnist Robert Cringley agrees with Google's goals, but thinks they will fail and have made a serious business mistake. What do you say?