Gazing Into My Looking Glass: 700Mhz Spectrum Edition

For those who pay attention to such minutia, there was a big auction last week by the FCC. If you are unaware, the Federal Communication Commission auctions off bandwidth periodically. This bandwidth is the basis for all kinds of wireless transmissions, including bluetooth, wi-fi, CB radio, regular radio, etc. The bandwidth that was auctioned will come free next year and covers the spectrum of traditional broadcast television.

From a business perspective, this auction was interesting. Google fought very hard to get some restrictions on the use of this bandwidth. Most notably, the FCC required that the winning bidders must open the spectrum to all devices. For devices that use this bandwidth, you would hypothetically go to the store, buy a device and then choose which provider to use it with. In other words, you will be able to use your iPhone with Verizon services, if you so desire.

The second interesting impact of this auction is technical. This spectrum is very good at going through walls and over long distances. The former is a problem with cellular bandwidth; the latter a problem with wi-fi.  In other words, with the right receiver, we could have mobile devices that have high-speed Internet connections everywhere.

Will this happen tomorrow? Of course not. But it does show that at least the big boys, AT&T and Verizon who bought 80% of the bandwidth for $17 billion, are very concerned about solving this problem.