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Great WSJ Op Ed on Google Freezing the airwaves

Kudos to Tom Hazlett and Vernon Smith for a cogent free market stance against Google's attempt to communalize the airwaves for Google's benefit -- in a great Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal today.

The authors are dead right to challenge Google's "free the airwaves" campaign on spectrum.  Google does not use the word "free" the way most people use it. When they say "free the airwaves," Google is saying, like it does in its push for net neutrality and open access, that it seeks to turn the airwaves in to a public commons where spectrum is communalized, not owned or licensed, available to anyone at no cost to use.

  • There are at least four big problems with this communal Google approach:
    • It does not ensure the spectrum is put to its "highest valued use" as Hazlett/Smith argue;
    • It fleeces the taxpayer out of billions of dollars that a public auction would generate;
    • It facilitates mass interference, ruining the utility and value of the spectrum; and
    • It is a corporate welfare and industrial policy designed to freeze in place Google's Internet dominance and protect Google from competition from spectrum owners or broadband providers.  

At core Google's model requires free inputs so it can disintermediate everyone else with its world dominant advertising model.

  • If spectrum airwaves and broadband conduit are communalized as Google desires, they as the world's largest user of Internet capacity, can continue to dominate the Internet domain because they enjoy near no-cost distribution for their product and services.
  • Combine this with Google's other aversion to property rights and you see the Google self-serving pattern. Google believes it should be able to use and profit off everyone else's information without having to pay for it.

Bottom line:  When Google uses the word "free" -- watch your wallet -- Google really means "free loader."