Ending months of speculation, Google said Nov. 30 it would bid for the choicest slice of airwaves in Januarys 700MHz spectrum auction. The eventual winner of the spectrum is required under Federal Communications Commission rules to allow customers to use any legal device or software on the network.
The open requirements imposed by the FCC are largely due to Googles lobbying efforts last summer to convince the agency to change the rules originally envisioned by Congress, which voted in 2006 to sell the spectrum to the highest bidder with no strings attached.
As dictated by the FCC, the minimum bid for the spectrum will begin at $4.6 billion. Googles likely competitors for the airwaves will be AT&T and Verizon. Googles application does not include any partners. The deadline for announcing participation in the auction is Dec. 3.
Verizon Wireless has dropped its opposition to the auction rules. Click here to read more.
"We believe its important to put our money where our principles are," Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement. "Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in todays wireless world."
The prime slice of spectrum drawing Googles attention is the analog space being vacated by broadcasters as part of the digital transition. The spectrum is considered ideal for wireless broadband since it penetrates walls and can travel great distances.
On top of the minimum $4.6 billion bid, Rick Whitt, Googles Washington telecom and media counsel, said in September that Google anticipates it could take as much as $12 billion and as long as three years to build a national wireless network from scratch.
"No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers, who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet," Schmidt said.
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