Bad News, Sergey. We Won the 'C Block' …. Kidding! … Hey Stop Hitting Me
Google (GOOG) won the recent wireless spectrum auction by not winning. That’s the claim of Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecom and media counsel, and Joseph Faber, its corporate counsel. In a post to Google’s Public Policy Blog Thursday, the two attorneys explained that the company’s main goal in bidding in the auction was, as many suspected, to make ensure the $4.6 billion reserve price that would activate open access rules was met. “Google’s top priority heading into the auction was to make sure that bidding on the so-called ‘C Block’ reached the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the important ‘open applications’ and ‘open handsets’ license conditions,” the two wrote, adding that the Google wasn’t opposed to winning the valuable swath of spectrum. “We were also prepared to gain the nationwide C Block licenses at a price somewhat higher than the reserve price; in fact, for many days during the early course of the auction, we were the high bidder,” Whitt and Faber explained. “But it was clear, then and now, that Verizon Wireless (VZ) ultimately was motivated to bid higher (and had far more financial incentive to gain the licenses).”
Really. You don’t say?
Anyway, Google’s lucky it got what it wanted from the auction without really spending anything. “If Google had won a license, there was only downside risk for them,” said Gregory L. Rosston, a former F.C.C. official and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. “Now they can just spend $1 million a year on a law firm to ensure Verizon lives up to the openness requirements.”