Schmidt: Google will "probably" bid in 700 MHz

ASPEN, Colo- During the final keynote of the Progress & Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit here last night Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledged that Google would "probably" participate in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction even though the FCC didn't meet all four conditions that Google wanted when it handed down the rules for the spectrum auction July 31. Google had said that it would potentially bid up to $4.6 billion in the auction if the FCC would enable open applications, open devices, open wholesale services and open network access.

"When we looked at the FCC ruling we felt we got the spirit of the ruling," Schmidt said. "We want open access. That's good for Google. And we would be delighted to see it happen."

Schmidt also indicated that the firm may be interested in working with other partners in the auction. "During this period we can collude," he said. However, he stopped short of elaborating on who those potential partners may be. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing prototype devices and negotiating with the likes of T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless to get its devices spread across several carriers.

The outspoken Google CEO also used his time at the podium to make a few digs at U.S. wireless carriers. He told the couple hundred regulators, lobbyists and academics attending the Aspen Summit that while 97 percent or more of the U.S. consumers have access to cell phone services from 3 or more carriers, he doesn't believe all consumers have access to high-quality high-speed access. "None of the carriers offer reasonable wireless data. 3G has been deployed much quicker outside the U.S."

Schmidt waxed on about his company's vision of taking its online advertising model to the wireless phone noting that most mobile phones today have GPS capability and integrated cameras, making them perfect devices for targeted marketing and advertising directly to consumers. "This is a huge advertising opportunity. That ad is worth money," Schmidt said. -Sue

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