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Friday, April 04, 2008
Google Talks About Spectrum Auction

For three weeks at the end of January and early February, Google bid in the FCC spectrum auction, and now that the FCC's rules have lifted, the company provided more information about the auction.

Google didn't pick up any spectrum licenses in the auction. However, the company believes that as a result of their bidding, consumers soon should have new freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices.

Google's top priority heading into the auction was to make sure that bidding on the so-called "C Block" reached the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the important "open applications" and "open handsets" license conditions. The comapny also prepared to gain the nationwide C Block licenses at a price somewhat higher than the reserve price; in fact, for many days during the early course of the auction, Google were the high bidder. But it was clear that Verizon Wireless ultimately was motivated to bid higher (and had far more financial incentive to gain the licenses).

As the FCC was setting rules for the auction last summer, Google urged the Commission to adopt four openness conditions. Further, they vowed to bid at least $4.6 billion in the auction if the Commission adopted all four rules. Even though the FCC ultimately agreed to only two of the conditions, which nullified Google's original pledge, the company still believed it was important to demonstrate through action their commitment to a more open wireless world.

Based on the way that the bidding played out, Google's participation in the auction helped ensure that the C Block met the reserve price. In fact, in ten of the bidding rounds Google actually raised their own bid -- even though no one was bidding against them -- to ensure aggressive bidding on the C Block. "In turn, that helped increase the revenues raised for the U.S. Treasury, while making sure that the openness conditions would be applied to the ultimate licensee," said Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, and Joseph Faber, Corporate Counsel.

The end of the auction certainly doesn't mark the end of Google's efforts toward greater wireless choice. The company will weigh in at the FCC as it sets implementation rules for the C Block, and determines how to move forward with a D Block re-auction.

"Android is already off to a successful start, and we are likely to see handsets later this year based on the Android platform. Google will continue advocating for the FCC to open up the vacant "white spaces" in the TV spectrum band for mobile broadband uses. And as more policymakers and regulators around the world evaluate their own spectrum policies, we will continue pushing to help make the wireless world look much more like the open platform of the Internet," Google said.

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