Google's persistent interest
in ensuring that the US' 700MHz spectrum
would give rise to a network open to any and all devices reinforced its belief that carriers can and should be nothing more than the proverbial "dumb pipes" -- leave the content and hardware to the people who know how to do it and don't necessarily have a vested interest in the carriers' bottom line. That attitude foretold that it had some interesting ideas up its sleeves (this is Google, after all), and while it's never been entirely clear what those ideas are, Android's "please use it, it's free" attitude certainly plays a role. Here's another piece of the puzzle: rather than be tied down to any one carrier, why not keep changing carriers in real time based on whomever's going to give you the best deal? A new patent filed by Mountain View's finest proposes exactly that, bringing together heterogeneous technologies -- "community-wide" networks like WiFi and WiMAX along with GSM, CDMA, and so on -- and an "auction system" that would let the user select (or allow the phone to automatically select) the best deal at the moment depending on their needs (available features or minimum speeds, time limits, and so on). It's an amazing idea that totally turns the contract concept on its head, and it's an idea that carriers would fight to the death. We're not seeing it happening, but hey, Google, we like the cut of your jib.
and New Scientist