The New York Times has a thought provoking article on what Google announcing they'll bid on the 700mhz spectrum and it's proposed rules for use of that spectrum recently submitted to the FCC means.
Effectively, they want to decouple the cellphone (or any similar device that can do a lot more, like, say, an iPhone?) from the network.
Isn't Google's CEO on Apple's board of directors? hmmmm...
Their point is a simple one. You don't have to choose a cable or sat. provider when you buy a TV, or an ISP when you buy a computer. Why require your phone/device be tied to a specific cellular carrier?
I recently signed up for Google's GrandCentral. It assigns you a phone number and gives you excellent control of who can reach you and how they reach you; for detail see my post here. What it does is put Google between the customer and the phone companies knocking them out as gatekeepers. Of course, it has the effect of making Google the gatekeeper instead (they supply and operate the systems supporting your phone number). However, you can bet several other companies will pop up with GrandCentral like services to compete with Google. Getting a phone number will become like buying software or a SAAS (Software As A Service) application.
If they succeed in buying much of this spectrum (or get the new FCC rules they want in place), combined with GrandCentral or similar type services, man, they've done what no one else has ever done before.
They'll level the playing field for the voice and wireless data industries in the U.S.
No more 2 year contracts. No more limits on devices you can use with a specific cellular network. You can use any device, made by anyone, to use any service. Real competition based on service, price, quality and (dare I say it) support. And maybe, just maybe, I can even get all my existing services like Gmail, Googledocs, Gtalk, etc. integrated in there as part of the bargain.
The thought of an open competitive robust series of service providers with open platforms and unlimited application choices that run on my device competing for my business here in the U.S. today? Inconceivable.
Tomorrow? If they pull it off, very conceivable indeed.