Google: Go for 700MHz?



Google is prepared to bid on 700 Mhz frequencies its own, without any partners, says the Wall St Journal. It is working out a plan to finance its bid, which could run $4.6 billion or higher, that would rely on its own cash and possibly some borrowed money.

Google, reports The Journal, is testing an advanced wireless network at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, gaining operating experience that could come in handy if it wins the spectrum and decides to run a full-scale national mobile carrier, according to people familiar with the matter.


Google could reap subscriber fees if it controlled an operator, and experiment with models such as a one-time licensing fee for consumers to use its network and no monthly access charges. Company executives have said that cellular handsets or services could eventually be subsidized by revenue from advertising consumers view on their cellphones.

Google may square off at the auction against large U.S. wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless that are looking for more spectrum, which is necessary to expand their own broadband Internet offerings and power services such as mobile TV.

Some carriers have privately expressed skepticism about Google’s ambitions, saying it is vastly underestimating the challenges of operating a network.

Google is focused mainly on bidding on what has been designated as the “C” block, a slice of the 700 megahertz spectrum. It is also considering other blocks of spectrum available as well, though they would provide only regional coverage or come with other limitations.

Google this year invested in a closely held United Kingdom company called Ubiquisys Ltd. that makes a technology called femtocell, which allows mobile phones in poor-coverage areas to use home Internet connections to make calls and transfer data. Such technology could potentially be harnessed as part of any Google wireless infrastructure.

If Google is successful in the spectrum auction, other possibilities on the table include leasing spectrum to partners. The company has separately had discussions about potentially investing alongside other parties in Clearwire Corp., which is trying to build a nationwide high-speed wireless network, say people familiar with the matter. Such talks with Google aren’t currently at an advanced stage, they say.

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Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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