A friend sends this link to a blog posting about Google jumping into the auction in the U.S. to sell of radio spectrum that will be vacated by TV broadcasters when the switch to digital takes place in February 2009. The upshot, Don Reisinger argues, is a cell phone industry crippled by free Wi-Fi service on Google smart phones. What, my friend asks, does this mean to Canadians?Unfortunately, at the moment, nothing. That free Wi-Fi phone service isn’t coming your way anytime soon. A, that spectrum won’t be freed up until Canada mandates a switch to digital over-the-air TV, and Industry Canada’s not forcing a date on broadcasters. And 2, the incumbent wireless industry troika of Bell, Rogers and Telus will do everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t happen. BRT are currently pushing hard to make sure there’s no spectrum set aside for new entrants in the upcoming advanced wireless spectrum auction, though dozens of other tech companies and organizations have weighed in on the other side of the argument. If BRT is that dead set against competition from companies with similar offerings, how will they react to Google’s radically different proposition?
The one upside I can see for Canadians: The one-time cost of a Google Wi-Fi phone for use when traveling in the U.S. would quickly offset the rapacious roaming and long distance charges the Canadian wireless industry charges, and I might consider actually using my phone when I’m in the States.