Google to bid billions in US wireless auction
Google said on Friday it would bid as much as 4.6 billion dollars to buy US wireless licenses in an upcoming government auction if rules include keeping the frequencies open to anyone.
The US Internet giant told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it will bid the money if the agency insures the winner allows all companies' access.
While Google refuses to discuss rumours it is working on a mobile telephone, it has clear interest in expanding into wireless service markets.
Google says its offer to meet the minimum bid in the federal government's auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz band is intended to promote greater competition and choice in Internet and mobile phone arenas.
"It strikes us as unfair that some people should enjoy such abundant access to this rich resource while billions of others aren't so lucky," Google's head of special initiatives, Chris Sacca, wrote on the US Internet giant's website.
In a July 9 letter, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt endorsed FCC chairman Kevin Martin's suggestions that open access be among the rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction.
Google will be a bidder if the FCC insists the frequencies remain open to any Internet companies or resellers of wireless services and that customers are free to choose among them, according to Schmidt.
"We're putting consumers' interests first, and putting our money where our principles are -- to the tune of 4.6 billion dollars," Sacca wrote.
Sacca said the FCC auction was a rare chance to break the stranglehold of a small group of companies on the US wireless spectrum for mobile telephones and data.
Opponents of allowing open access contend the move would devalue the spectrum and result in the government making less money.
Google stands to benefit from opening the spectrum, an idea which has been opposed by the administration of US President George Bush.
"This is one of the best opportunities we will have to bring the Internet to all Americans," Sacca wrote. "Let's seize that opportunity."