Google to bid for wireless spectrum

Google will bid at least $4.6 billion for wireless airwaves being auctioned off by the federal government, if certain conditions are met, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Google wants the Federal Communications Commission to mandate that any winners lease a certain portion of the airwaves to other companies seeking to offer high-speed Internet and other services.

Such a provision, Google argues, will give consumers, who traditionally get high-speed Internet, or broadband, access via cable or telephone lines, a third option for service.

The report said the so-called wholesale provision presents a huge business opportunity for Google, analysts said.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin last week previewed draft rules for the auction that did not include the wholesale provision, the report said.

That's a sticking point for Google, which sees the wholesale provision critical to promoting competition in the wireless broadband marketplace. It wants one-third of the airwaves being auctioned off to be offered on a wholesale basis, according to the report.

The wireless airwaves that will be auctioned lie on a particularly valuable band of spectrum.

The auction, which must take place early next year, could raise as much as $20 billion for the US Treasury.

The report further said that in a letter to Martin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the current auction terms fall short of what it, consumer groups and other companies want.

Google's position puts it at odds with major telecom carriers such as Verizon and Britain's Vodafone, and AT&T, both viewed as potential bidders.

AT&T has said it favors the current auction draft rules, but Verizon would not comment on its stance, the report further said.