Google may bid alone for wireless airwaves
WASHINGTON -- Google Inc. is considering bidding alone on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network as a deadline nears to declare bidding plans, people familiar with the situation said.
One source underscored that Google had made no decision as of Friday on whether it would bid with partners or on its own in the auction of 700-megahertz spectrum due to begin Jan. 24.
Bidding could pit Google against top wireless carriers AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.
Going it alone at the government auction of airwaves would not rule out signing up partners later, the source said.
Google executives discussed the auction last week with Federal Communications Commission officials, including FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, people familiar with the meeting said.
At the talks, executives for the Web search leader gave the impression of "inching more towards" a bid, one source said.
Another said it was "within the realm of possibility" that partners could be brought in later if Google won. Google has talked to several prospective partners, not just carriers.
The company is "making all the necessary preparations to become an applicant to bid in the auction" ahead of a Dec. 3 deadline for applying to participate, a spokesman said in a statement.
"From the company's perspective, the overriding factor is how to foster more openness in networks."
The 700-MHz airwaves, which are being returned by broadcasters as they move from analog to digital signals early in 2009, can go long distances and penetrate thick walls. The auction is seen as a last chance for a new wireless player.