government auction, raising the possibility the Internet's leading
search engine will become a wireless service provider.
The Federal Communications Commission is auctioning the 700 megahertz
spectrum to increase bandwidth for mobile phone and Internet services.
Television stations will be giving up that coveted section of the
airwaves -- it is extremely powerful, adept at going through walls --
when they switch to digital transmission in February 2009.
"Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in
today's wireless world,'' said Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a statement
Google will apply to bid for the "C Block'' of the spectrum -- which
carries a reserve price of $4.6 billion -- because regulators
stipulated that whoever operates it must allow its users to download
any software application they want to a mobile device. Google's bid was
not unexpected, as it played a leading role in lobbying the FCC to open
"Regardless of how the auction unfolds, we think it's important to put
our money where our principles are,'' wrote Chris Sacca, Google's head
of special initiatives, in a company blog.
Mobile phone companies now force subscribers to use proprietary
software to operate handsets on their network, but Google has indicated
it plans to challenge that business model. The company announced
several weeks ago that it will develop software for mobile devices.
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