updated 08:30 am EST, Fri November 30, 2007
Google 700MHz Bid Likely
Google is prepared to announce today that it will bid in the FCC's upcoming auction for the 700MHz spectrum to establish a new wireless network, the Wall Street Journal claims. The search engine developer has hinted that it has been willing to bid Since July but until now has refrained from making any kind of definite commitment to a bid, which would cost the company at least $4.6 billion. The company has nonetheless been under some pressure to take action after successfully negotiating open access rules that would force any winner of the bid to allow any device and any program to run on a network it might establish with the new frequency space.
The potential announcement will come just three days before the December 3rd cutoff date for companies to confirm their interest in a bid. The auction itself takes place on January 24th.
If Google successfully lands its bid, the company is expected to use the spectrum to create its own cellular network or else license the space outright to companies for both voice and data. The 700MHz band, which is being used by analog TV broadcasts until February 2009, has been highly coveted by wireless providers as the low frequency means it can penetrate easily through walls, making it far preferable to current technology for high-speed wireless, particularly indoors or in dense urban areas where a "canyon" effect sometimes blocks reception. Such performance would likely help the success of Google's new Android mobile OS, which is designed around the firm's Internet search services.
AT&T and Verizon are also likely to bid but have not formally announced any plans. Both initially objected to the open access clause but have since relented, in part as a response to concerns that the companies would try to lock down any services they would create on the 700MHz band.