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AT&T, Verizon Fight Google's Wireless Bid

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AT&T, Verizon Fight Google's Wireless Bid

Technology

AT&T, Verizon Fight Google's Wireless Bid

AT&T, Verizon Fight Google's Wireless Bid

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AT&T and Verizon are fighting to keep Google out of a government auction for a wireless broadband spectrum. What's the significance of Google's bid?

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And now, NPR's digital culture correspondent Laura Sydell, who's been covering this story.

Laura Sydell, we've heard what Chris Sacca says, what Google says. First of all, what do Verizon Wireless and AT&T say in response to Google's ideas about open platforms?

LAURA SYDELL: Well, among the things they say is that the phones that other people might build might not work right with their network. It could have some program on it that brings down the entire network, that wireless networks are much more fragile. They also see this as corporate welfare for Google, because Google would be the one to make the big profit if these networks are open. People will be able to go directly to Google. Google won't have to negotiate anything with Verizon. So they're asking why should Google be the company that's making most of the money and they don't, when they're willing to pay this much money for the spectrum.

SIEGEL: Is Google, in fact, changing the discussion at all about spectrum and -what's the significance of all these?

SYDELL: I do think Google is changing the conversation because I think that by doing this, one of the things that's happening is people are, in fact, starting to think about what they can't do with their cell phones. And maybe, you know, why can't I do that with my cell phone, you know? Hmm, maybe that is kind of a pain. And I don't think most people have really thought about it. They've just accepted that this is the way life is, in the same way that when it used to be that you could only buy your phone from the phone company; you were just used to, okay, you had three choices for a phone.

And when that changed, and the phone companies actually had to allow people to use phones that they had purchased elsewhere on their lines, suddenly, you had fax machines, you had all these different things. And it opened consumers' eyes. I think Google is trying to make people think about that now, and I think people are. And I think it is changing the discussion a bit.

SIEGEL: Choice of three - that was the golden age of telephone rental and of the Princess phone. There was just one phone for many times. The auction won't happen until next year.

SYDELL: That's right.

SIEGEL: When will the FCC announce what the terms will be for the auction?

SYDELL: They will announce that on Tuesday morning. They're supposed to meet and make up their minds. So we will know sometime on Tuesday exactly what the terms of this auction will be.

SIEGEL: Well, NPR's Laura Sydell. Thank you very much for talking with us about it.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

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