What does Big Tech want with spectrum?
May 19, 2021 by Toby Youell


TagsAmazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, OTT players

Governments around the world are becoming more and more wary of Big Tech. Even the Government in their home country, the United States, is considering sweeping anti-trust rules that could even see some of them broken up.

Different stakeholders attack Big Tech for different things, but one aspect of technology companies that is undisputed is the size of their largest players. The total market capitalization of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, is $5.8 trillion, which is greater than the annual economic output of every country in the world apart from China and the United States. Japan’s annual GDP, by contrast, is $5.1 trillion.

Given their size, it is perhaps no surprise that they have an impact on spectrum policy too. Broadly speaking, these Over The Top (OTT) players have long used spectrum-dependent infrastructure to provide valuable services and have advocated for more unlicensed spectrum policies so that more people can connect to Wi-Fi.

Our newly updated profiles for the four largest OTT players finds that these companies continue to advocate for unlicensed spectrum policy, particularly for the 6 GHz band. But in recent years their need for connectivity has led them to take more complicated positions. They are all offering their software to mobile operators, for example, and think that Open RAN is a good way of cutting their costs. Amazon has gone a step further and is building its own Low Earth Orbit satellite constellation. Their new views on spectrum reflect their interests in these services.

The updated OTT players’ profiles are available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.