Can Google, The FCC, And AT&T Turn Wireless Carriers Into Dumb Pipes? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
7/20/2007
02:28 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Can Google, The FCC, And AT&T Turn Wireless Carriers Into Dumb Pipes?

As my colleague Eric Zeman pointed out earlier today, Google is ready to bid in the FCC's upcoming auction of 700-MHz spectrum. Google is using its clout to push for an open access plan to spectrum, something that could turn the wireless carriers into dumb pipes -- and Google into one of those pipes.

As my colleague Eric Zeman pointed out earlier today, Google is ready to bid in the FCC's upcoming auction of 700-MHz spectrum. Google is using its clout to push for an open access plan to spectrum, something that could turn the wireless carriers into dumb pipes -- and Google into one of those pipes.Google has been making moves in the telecom space for a while, from launching loads of mobile applications to buying up dark fiber. But this week's announcement is a sign that Google wants to move from being just a search engine and maker of applications to being a service provider, or at least a company that has an extreme amount of control over service providers. And that means that wireless Internet service could soon become a commodity.

Almost everyone in the wireless industry has long predicted that the carriers would eventually become dumb pipes. What's amazing is that the carriers have been able to put it off for this long.

2007 seems to be shaping up as the tipping point for the wireless industry, and I have to admit that the iPhone has been a catalyst for much of this change. As I pointed out earlier this week, the iPhone is tearing down the carriers' barriers on dual-mode Wi-Fi access. And now the iPhone's carrier, AT&T, is ready to back Google's and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's call for open wireless networks.

With AT&T, Google, and the FCC in agreement, I think the death of the old carrier model is firmly in sight. What do you think? Will 2007 be the year the carriers become dumb pipes?

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