Verizon Bows to Google

Verizon Wireless has just agreed to side with Google on a major policy issue. That's indicative of a major power shift in the wireless industry.

Need another piece of evidence of a fundamental power shift happening in the wireless industry? Verizon Wireless announced today that it will support some of Google’s conditions for an upcoming wireless spectrum auction.

Google envisions using the spectrum to build an “open” network, accessible from any service provider’s cell phone. Today, Verizon Wireless’ customers can only access that company’s network. Same goes for other carriers’ customers. Until now, Verizon and most other telcos have been vehemently opposed to such “open” rules. Telcos have feared — rightly so — that such open networks would diminish their control over subscribers.

So, why has Verizon’s position changed? The article I’d linked to above says that Verizon believes that the auction is nothing more than an experiment in open networks by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Personally, I wouldn’t call Google’s $4.6 billion pledge (that’s how much the company said it might spend in the auction) an experiment. More likely, Google has simply bullied Verizon into seeing things its way.

Wireless carriers’ power is waning, just as that of Google, Apple and others is rising.

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