Google’s ambitious vision for its own wireless data network revealed in a patent. What a pity it’s dead
If Google did not cave in to Verizon on most things wireless, to boost the Android OS. If only they had more balls and went through with the bid to buy a chunk of radio spectrum for mobile communications back in 2008…
Today Google has been awarded a patent, that shows how it could have could have made mobile data networks work in a much more efficient, market driven way.
Currently the mobile carriers buy or are allocated a slice of radio spectrum to provide their services, and within certain limitations, they are pretty much free to do what they want with it. Efficient use of the spectrum and user interests usually take the back seat to earning as much as carrier can from the slice it owns. And since nobody else is allowed to do anything in that spectrum band, without carrier’s say so – devices with better, alternative uses are not even considered.
Google’s ambition, if they got themselves a chunk of wireless spectrum to do as they like, was very different. They wanted to create an auction system, in which any mobile device could dynamically bid for the amount of data and transfer speed it needs at that moment, in real time.
Only need the basic service for push e-mails, SMS and pinging the network to show that the device is on? That you could get for free. Need a voice service, want to do a bit of browsing and let some apps get small amounts of real time data – like weather, calendar, Twitter and RSS reader updates? Pay a nominal monthly or weekly fee and you have it. Want to stream movie from Netflix to your mobile device – that depends. If it’s at night, in low trafficked area and there’s a lot of unused network resource – the nominal fee might cover it. If it’s during the day and a lot of people are doing things on their mobiles, your device bids for the amount network access that will allow you to get the movie. If you opt for a lower speed and can wait few minutes – it’s one price. If you want to stream it right now, in HD – the price goes up. You decide.
In the middle of it all is an auctioneer/clearing house for spectrum allocation, and a smart mobile devices that can receive and understand directions from the network about access to transmit rights, and how much power they can use to transmit data. When there is a limited amount of spectrum at some location, the automated bidding process between devices starts, until the service levels and data allocations are sorted out.
In the long run, this may have been a much more efficient way to tame the 5% of wireless data hoarders that use 80% of network resources streaming videos and downloading files all day. While making mobile data much cheaper and accessible for the rest of us.
Alas – Google withdrew from the radio spectrum auction in 2008, after a minimum bid. And more efficient, market driven wireless data network is just another thing Google toyed with once, and then abandoned.