Frontline Wireless, the uber-startup that was poised to lay down a bid for a prime portion of the US wireless spectrum, now says it's "closed for business". "Frontline is closed for business at this time," spokeswoman Mary Greczyn told us. "We have no further comment." The news will come as a shock to anyone who's followed the …
GSM is open access
Anyone can get the specs from ETSI, build a device and get it certified. The network provides IP delivery to the Internet (at a price), so any application on any device can connect to any server.
Of course this isn't cheap and easy so the incumbents (whether at chipset or handset level) have an advantage.
Of course there are a whole heap of market shaping the telcos do (handset subsidy, plan pricing, sim locking, etc) but it still remains that I can take any (unlocked) generic GSM phone and use it on any GSM network (having acquired a supported SIM).
Has Frontline become a victim of the locked up credit markets?
This is very sad news. But I do wonder if the problem is entirely caused by the fact that even the major banks are not in any position to lend to each other due to the ongoing problems within the credit markets. In that case, it will only be the major companies, (for example, Google), that have full access to their own finances that will be able to bid for the spectrum. That was why we have not entered the 700MHz auction ourselves. The FCC knew all along that their method of running the auction would inevitably discourage smaller companies from bidding. But with the lock up of the credit markets, the auction is an impossible target for all but a very few, very large businesses.
This "up front payment" farce will lock out any smaller companies hoping to bid for the spectrum. Only the likes of AT&T and Verizon will be able to afford such an outrageous up front payment just for the privilege of bidding on the spectrum and paying MORE money for it. The "usual suspects" (AT&T and Verizon) are the winners here.