Google has been making noise for some time about getting its hands on some wireless spectrum licenses. It's been behind a push to get the FCC to institute "open access" rules for license winners in the upcoming auction of 700 MHz spectrum, and the FCC implemented a couple of rather meaningless conditions
to certain licenses in the auction. Google's main goal was to get the FCC to force license winners to offer wholesale access to their networks to anyone who wanted to buy it -- making it clear that Google's real interest isn't in acquiring spectrum licenses and building a network of its own, but rather having the ability to buy wholesale network access, and to do so in a competitive market. Google's push to get the FCC to create this market for free failed; now, Google's CEO says the company will "probably" bid
in the auction. If Google were to win some licenses, it could choose to lease them to network operators in exchange for network access, with whatever conditions it wants to attach. This could achieve the same end result -- a marketplace with several bidders competing for Google's business -- as the getting the FCC to mandate open access. Obviously Google would rather have gone down that route than having to shell out several billion dollars for the licenses. Either way, don't expect Google to begin building its own physical network, but its motives in acquiring and redistributing access either as a virtual operator or in some other way are clear.