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Monday, December 03, 2007
Google to Bid for U.S. Mobile Airwaves

Google confirmed on Friday that the company would bid on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network, pitting it against established telecommunications players AT&T and Verizon.

The company said in a statement that it was ready to go it alone rather than rely on partners in bidding in the Federal Communications Commission-run auction of 700-megahertz wireless spectrum due to begin on January 24. >BR>
The Silicon Valley-based company said it would make its filing ahead of the FCC deadline on Monday for companies to declare their interest in joining the airwaves bidding.

"We believe it's important to put our money where our principles are," said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google.

The auction is expected to take several weeks, or even months, of daily, back-and-forth bidding, with the identities of the bidders kept secret. Big spectrum bidders typically draw up elaborate strategies, often with input from game-theory experts.

Expected bidders include AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 and No 2. U.S. wireless network operators. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc .

Less certain are the strategies of satellite broadcasters DirectTV and EchoStar Communications and cable networks Comcast and Time Warner as well as other wireless players Sprint , T-Mobile and Clearwire.

These radio waves are being returned by broadcasters as they move from analog to digital signals early in 2009. The signals can go long distances and penetrate thick walls. The auction is seen as a last chance for a new wireless player.

The winning bidder must provide open access to any device consumers choose to use on the network if the reserve price of $4.6 billion for the "C Block" is met at auction, Google said. "C Block" is the key portion of the spectrum up for auction.

If the reserve price is not met, the auction would be rerun without the so-called "open-platform" conditions.

On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless announced it had acceded to Google's open-platform demands and would open its network to any phone or software application by the end of 2008.

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