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8/22/2007
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Google 'Probably' Will Bid In 700 MHz Wireless Auction, Schmidt Says

Even though the FCC didn't adopt all of the auction rules that Google sought, the search engine company "probably" will submit a bid for the spectrum, Schmidt says.

Google is likely to participate in the upcoming auction for 700 MHz spectrum, according to comments made Tuesday by company chairman Eric Schmidt.

The firm and the FCC had been haggling over terms for the auction, and the commission last month adopted only two of four requirements set by Schmidt for Google to bid in the January auction.

Asked by a T-Mobile executive at a conference in Aspen, Colo., whether Google planned to participate in the auction, Schmidt said, "probably," according to published reports. He was a featured speaker at a meeting of regulators and telecom executives sponsored by the Progress and Freedom Foundation think tank.

Google has been inching toward becoming an active player in consumer wireless communications as its earlier hopes of piggybacking on nationwide Wi-Fi networks have sputtered trying to get off the ground.

When the FCC set rules for the upcoming 700 MHz auction, it favored two of the four requirements Google had sought. The FCC set the auction rules without directly addressing any of Google's requirements. But Google was pleased that the agency adopted a measure that would open up a large portion of the 700 MHz spectrum to provide service to devices from many firms, unlike cellular phone service providers that limit the types of devices that can be used on their networks.

Google has said it is prepared to spend up to $4.6 billion in the auction; the search engine company has complained that incumbent telecommunications firms -- a veiled reference to Verizon Communications and AT&T -- have an advantage in the auction. However, in the wake of Schmidt's Aspen comments, Google may bid anyway.

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