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Google to bid on U.S. airwaves


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To promote open airwaves

Google, Inc.
has notified the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it will participate in an auction of wireless spectrum airwaves (which has a minimum required bid of $4.6 billion) provided that the FCC adds a condition that the winning bidder will promote an “open” wireless market by being required to offer to resell some of the airwaves to competitors at wholesale prices. 

At present, U.S. wireless carriers can legally restrict cell phone models that are available for use on their networks, along with the software that can be loaded onto those models.  Google’s position is opposed by the major U.S. wireless carriers who claim that reselling the airwaves will reduce their value.

Google and some consumer advocates are pressing the FCC to open the airwaves to promote wireless services competition, since the airwaves are publicly owned and merely regulated by the FCC.

The airwaves to be auctioned are in the 700-megahertz band and are becoming available as broadcasters return their rights to them when they move from analog to digital broadcast signals by 2009.  The 700-megahertz airwaves are valuable since they can travel long distances and can penetrate structures with thick walls. The FCC auction will take place later in 2007 and is viewed by many as a last chance for a new “player” to get into the wireless market.

Last modified on 23 July 2007
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