Google Comes Clean About Auction Intent

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-04-04 Print this article Print


Google officials confirmed what many folks expected: The company's bidding in the FCC's 700 MHz wireless auction was a ploy to drive up the purchase price of the spectrum to ensure that the provisions for open devices and applications would be applied to the winner.

Worked like a charm as we all now know: Verizon won the spectrum and will pay more than the $4.7 billion Google topped out at after several days of being the highest bidder.

Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel and staff attorney Joseph Faber, described how Google's bidding shook out in a blog post Thursday afternoon.

"For three weeks at the end of January and early February, a small team of us holed up in double super secret 'war rooms' in Mountain View, CA and Washington, D.C. to bid on Google's behalf in the FCC spectrum auction," they wrote. "Bidding took place electronically, and literally billions of dollars were at stake with every mouse click."

Sounds like a teaser to a geeked-up version of a Tom Clancy novel.

The men go on to explain that Google's numero uno priority for the auction was to make sure that bidding on the pricey "C Block" spectrum reached the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the open applications and open handsets license conditions, two of the four terms the FCC agreed to last year.

However, they also promised that in the event that they won they would pay a little more than the $4.6 billion reserve price the FCC wanted.

Good to know Google would pay up if it won the bid, but as many noted it's a classic tale of be careful what you wish for. Google has said it did not intend to build a wireless network but would partner with other vendors to use the spectrum. That's a pricey entrée for partnerships of any kind.

And, lest we think the Google folks are too proud of themselves: "partly as a result of our bidding, consumers soon should have new freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices."

This is true, but don't be so smug about it! Your wireless ambitions lie in the uncertain hands of your Android mobile operating stack. If you can't make that fly, you're as good as dead in the space unless you have other irons in the fire. Fortunately, Android has some strong early support, and even AT&T, formerly a Google foil for the auction, has said it would consider it.

Meanwhile, Google's Whitt and Faber said the company will lend its voice to the FCC as it sets implementation rules for the C Block and determines how to move forward with a D Block re-auction.

Also, as Whitt stated last week, the company will continue to pound the table to make the FCC to open up the "white spaces" in the TV spectrum band for mobile broadband use. |

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