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Google Has $4.6 Billion Ready For FCC Auction

Google has been issuing statements over the last several weeks about the upcoming FCC 700 MHz auction. This morning, it formally declared its interest in participating in the auction if the FCC sticks to Chairman Kevin Martin's open a
Google has been issuing statements over the last several weeks about the upcoming FCC 700 MHz auction. This morning, it formally declared its interest in participating in the auction if the FCC sticks to Chairman Kevin Martin's open access plan.That's a big "if." In a letter to Martin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt notes that if the FCC agrees to four specific points, it will enter the bidding for a slice of 700-MHz spectrum.

He said:


As you know, Google submitted an ex parte letter on July 9th explaining that, in order to promote genuine competition, the Commission must include open platforms as part of the applicable licensing requirements for paired commercial blocks in the Upper 700 MHz Band. In particular, our July 9th letter requested that the Commission should extend to all CMRS-type spectrum licensees clearly delineated, explicitly enforceable, and unwavering obligations to provide (1) open applications, (2) open devices, (3) open wholesale services, and (4) open network access.

Martin was initially blasted by the entire industry, including the major carriers and CTIA president Steve Largent, for proposing the open access idea. Open access of devices and applications would erode control that the operators exert over subscribers. Just yesterday, however, AT&T did an about-face and decided to support Martin's plan.

In a Reuters report, AT&T senior executive VP Jim Cicconi said, "If our understandings are accurate, we believe chairman (Kevin) Martin has struck an interesting and creative balance between the competing interests."

With Google willing to commit a minimum of $4.6 billion to the bidding for spectrum, the 700 MHz auction has become the hot topic of the summer.

There is a long way to go, however, before Martin's suggested plan for open access is approved as a formal part of the 700 MHz auction.