updated 09:30 am EST, Fri November 30, 2007
Google 700MHz Bid Official
Google today confirmed its bid for the FCC's 700MHz spectrum auction, validating a late leak in the press of the company's intentions. The maneuver will give Google an opportunity to use and license the airwaves for services such as cellular calling or Internet access, both of which are likely to occur given the company's purported secret testing of its own mobile services at its Mountain View, California headquarters. It was important for Google officials to live up to their espoused values of open and fair competition and "put our money where our principles are," according to the company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt.
While the company is likely to face direct opposition from incumbent cellular carriers intent on extending their control of the network, Google notes that the open access rules should ensure fair treatment regardless of who actually wins the January 24th auction, as every company will be obligated to allow any device and any software to run on the network instead of deliberately locking down hardware or deliberately excluding non-profitable software, such as voice-over-Internet calling.
"Regardless of which bidders ultimately win the auction, consumers will be the real winners either way," says the company's Special Initiatives head, Chris Sacca. "Consumers deserve more choices and more competition than they have in the wireless world today."
Google adds that it will have no partners in the auction, putting to rest notions that the company might need extra financing from an investor to achieve a winning bid. However, anti-collusion rules will dictate that the company avoid discussing much of the bid after the looming December 3rd deadline for bid submissions, leading largely to silence until the January 24th auction date. The entire auction will be handled online and could last as long as March depending on the number of bids and how quickly each slice of the spectrum is bought out. A public list of who is involved in the auction will be published by the FCC in mid-December, the company says.
The bid is believed to prove instrumental for the strategy behind Google's Linux-based Android mobile device OS and in the long-term strategies of companies such as Apple and Nokia, whose data-centric devices are set to reap the rewards of more widespread and unrestricted access.