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November 30, 2007

Google throws hat into spectrum auction

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 10:33 AM

The list of participants wasn't supposed to be out until Monday, but Google beat everyone to the punch by saying today that it will apply to participate in the FCC's upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 MHz band.

The airwaves in that band are good for wireless Internet access. But it is unclear what technology the winning bidder would choose to use it for. The options include WiMax, LTE (an evolution of GSM) or others.

Earlier this year, Google lobbied the FCC to ensure the winning bidder would be required to allow their users "open access," meaning those users could download any software application they want on their mobile device, as well as use any mobile devices on that wireless network.

For more background, check out a story I wrote in August.

Verizon Wireless announced this week that it planned to open up its network by the end of 2008.

The winner of the auction will have to follow through with the open access requirement if it meets the reserve price of $4.6 billion for this swath of spectrum.

"We believe it's important to put our money where our principles are," said Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and CEO. "Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today's wireless world. 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."

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Tricia Duryee
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