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November 30, 2007

Google to Participate in FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Google (News - Alert) has announced today that it plans to participate in the Federal Communication Commission’s upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz (MHz) band.

The auction is part of the nationally mandated transition to digital television. Set to begin January 24, 2008, the auction will free up spectrum airwaves for more efficient wireless Internet service for consumers.

Public interest groups and Google lobbied hard earlier this year for specific usability of the spectrum. Regardless of which bidders win a key portion of the spectrum up for auction (the “C Block”), they will be required to allow their users to download any software application they desire on their on their mobile device, as well as use any mobile devices they would like on that wireless network.

The winner must ensure these rights for consumers if the reserve price of $4.6 billion for the C Block is met at auction.
"We believe it's important to put our money where our principles are," said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google, in a Friday statement.

"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."

Schmidt also openly praised the leadership of FCC (News - Alert) Chairman Kevin Martin and his fellow commissioners for adopting the new rights for consumers earlier this year.

Google expects to file its formal application on Monday, December 3, 2007, with the FCC to participate in the 700 MHz auction. This is the required first step in the auction process. Google’s application does not include any partners.

This anticipated participation on behalf of Google comes on the heels of the search giant’s announcement that it plans to get into the smartphone arena. While sketchy details have been provided, the company is certainly on the path to capture a portion of this market.

The company’s lobbying for free download rights are also inline with the company initiative to make Google accessible to all consumers on all mobile devices. If Google emerges as a key winner in this auction, it will be even better positioned to execute its mobile strategy.

At this point, whether Google emerges as a winner or not, the company has already won in its quest for consumers to have to right to demand Google in real-time, from anywhere and on any device. What will be more interesting to watch is what the competition has in store to try and thwart its plans for market dominance.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.



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