Google's been talking about wireless spectrum for a while now, both as part of a coalition asking for the white space around TV channels to be opened up, but it's also been mentioned as a possible bidder in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auctions later this year. While Google's not commenting on whether or not it will bid on the spectrum, it has made a proposal to the FCC to allow for a "real-time airwaves auction model" for it. Google wants to set up a system for the spectrum that would work much like AdWords does, only instead of advertisers bidding for impressions, service providers would be bidding for spectrum. While we're supportive of ways to make spectrum more flexible and useful, and support the idea of allowing spectrum to be leased and sold in general, it's hard to see a lot of benefit in Google's plan. It says the auction would allow for spectrum to be fully utilized by letting companies easily auction off excess in real-time. That may be true, but it seems unlikely that there will be a lot of interest from potential bidders. Short-term leases that carry few guarantees aren't exactly attractive if you're trying to build a sustainable business -- for instance, it's not a great idea to start up a mobile broadband service one month, then tell your customers that you're sorry, but you got outbid this month, so you've gone dark, but they can be sure and check back next month to see if the service is up again. Perhaps the bottom line here is that spectrum owners should have the flexibility to do something like this, or lease their spectrum another way, should they see fit. But simply having that ability doesn't automatically make it a good idea to do so.
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