The Gphone: Exclusively From Sprint Nextel and Google?

Published on July 26, 2007
by John Paczkowski

Given Google’s well-documented efforts to set up a free Wi-Fi network in San Francisco, we believe the upcoming spectrum auctions could represent a rare opportunity for the company to acquire something resembling an exclusive (licensed) nationwide WiMax footprint, and largely eliminate any access dependency on third parties. As such, we believe Google’s potential involvement bears watching, especially in light of the fact the company has shown little hesitation in delving into the other aspects of networking. Google’s selection of equipment vendors, such as Force10 and Infinera, indicate to us a willingness to embrace leading-edge technologies, and we believe WiMax fits that description.”

Joe Chiasson, Susquehanna Financial Group, February 2006

This morning Google announced an alliance with Sprint Nextel that will see the two companies working together to bring Google’s search, digital mapping technologies and GTalk chat service to Sprint’s WiMax network, which, once it’s completed, will theoretically allow wireless Web access at speeds and prices similar to cable connections.

The deal follows the announcement of Sprint’s plans to collaborate with Clearwire to build out a nationwide WiMax network by the end of 2008. It also follows Google’s conditional pledge to drop at least $4.6 billion on the Federal Communications Commission’s auction of the 700-megahertz spectrum, which has long been said to be the future of WiMax (with fewer line-of-sight issues and wider coverage and better building penetration).

Coincidence? Or part of a master plan in which Google wins the 700-megahertz spectrum, uses it to help complete the Sprint/Clearwire nationwide WiMax network effort and then announces the long-rumored Google Phone–upending the telco-cable duopoly in the process?

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