Google in Wireless

More discussions regarding Google getting into the wireless game were sparked today by a Wall Street Journal article focusing on Google’s wireless ambitions.
In summary:
  • Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum or lose good will in Washington
  • The company’s bid will be $4.6 billion or more.
  • Google has a test FCC license and has cell towers at its campus which it uses with Android-based phones.
  • The company has been in semi-serious discussions with Clearwire regarding building out a WiMAX network.
  • Google has invested in femtocell maker Ubiquisys
  • Everyone and their brother is on record explaining how difficult it is to build a wireless network.
  • Wall Street is enthusiastic about lending money to Google to bid at the auction
  • Google will think about bringing in partners after the auction is over and it sees what happens.
  • The company has brought on game theory experts to help it in the bidding process.
There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the rumors of Google acquiring Sprint with many thinking the idea is farfetched. It would seem however that since Google is working on its own wireless network, they are very serious about getting into the wireless space.
As we discussed in my recent post on the matter, Google likes to build everything itself from scratch. This is just the way the company operates. However if you are going to go into the wireless business it will take years to put towers around the US and then the world.
Think about the layers of negotiation which need to take place… City by city… Neighborhood by neighborhood — the company has to place base stations with antennas on tall buildings, water towers and hilltops as far as the eye can see.
Sure this can be done, but it will take such a long time… Let’s say five years to cover the U.S. which is more than a decade in Google years. The question is can the company be so patient? The answer is probably yes but they move at a breakneck pace and having to roll out base station by base station would likely be more akin to water torture than progress for the search behemoth.
It would seem that the rumors regarding Sprint or even another wireless provider being acquired by the Silicon Valley tech company are a real possibility. It is becoming more apparent by the day how serious Google is taking the wireless market and it should also be obvious that the company can get a tremendous head start by acquiring. It may not be the company’s style to make such a large acquisition but I am sure many hours of boardroom meetings looking over Google Earth maps of the United States reinforces what a daunting task building a wireless network from scratch can be.
For this reason I feel more confident in predicting the company will at least make some sort of investment in a broadband wireless provider and at most a full acquisition.
Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for the wireless space and it is worth watching what Google does very closely.
See also:

Leave Your Comment