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Google Plans For Mobile Future

The New York Times' Miguel Helft says Google's investment in WiMAX, announced as $500 million earlier this week, could help solidify its mobile future. By joining an industry consortium led by Sprint Nextel and Clearwire, Google will be part of a project to build a fast, broad-reaching next-generation wireless network. The company has supported initiatives that promote "open" Internet access in the past, spearheading an intense lobbying effort to force the FCC to impose "open access" rules on the C-block spectrum in January's wireless spectrum auction.

Google's bet is simple: if given a choice, and open access preserves that choice, consumers will choose Google's products and services. And more usage means more ad revenue for Google. On its official blog, the company confirms that the Clearwire investment (the joint venture is called Clearwire) coincides with the company's push for open wireless access. In other words, Google wanted in to preserve that right. That said, Google's investment also puts it in the advantageous position of being the default search engine and applications provider for the WiMAX network. Consumers still have a choice, but Google's services will be highlighted. Crucially, Clearwire will also support phones based on Google's Android mobile operating system.

Separately, Google also struck a similar deal with Sprint to give prominent placement to its products and services on Sprint phones. That deal will take shape as early as this summer. However, Microsoft is still Sprint's default search provider

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