Google pledges $4.6B if 700 MHz is open

Google finally put its money where its mouth is, pledging to bid a minimum of $4.6 billion in the 700 MHz auction if the Federal Communications Commission agrees to set aside some spectrum for open access--that is open access the way Google envisions it to be. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin leaked his draft order for the 700 MHz band. The proposal would allow a level of open access on two 11 MHz blocks in the 700 MHz band. Martin wants any device and application to be able to run on these networks, but he has apparently stopped short from requiring the winning bidder to open its network up on a wholesale basis. That wasn't good enough for Google. It is attaching stipulations to this $4.6-billion potential bid, saying it will only bid if the FCC enables open applications, open devices, open wholesale services and open network access.

In an interview with Dow Jones, Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, said Google isn't interested in selling service directly to consumers itself, which runs counter to its business plan. Rather, it wants to oversee construction of a new national wireless network and lease out access to third parties. Who might that be?

Meanwhile, after a few days of rumors that AT&T might sue the FCC over the proposed open access rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction, the carrier surprisingly said it supports Martin's plan.

Check the FierceWireless website later for more on my views about Google's moves in the 700 MHz debate. Website

For more about Google's $4.6-billion commitment:
- take a look at this article from Dow Jones
check out the letter Google CEO Eric Schmidt sent to the FCC
- look at the official Google blog

Related articles:
-Google outlines mobile strategy