Verizon: Google Auction Plan Will Discourage Bidders

Verizon is urging the FCC not to adopt Google's suggested terms for rules on reclaimed analog TV spectrum to be auctioned for advanced wireless services by early 2008, saying it could reduce the auction's take by billions.

Google, which wants to create a wireless network to deliver Internet services in competition to cable and phone companies like Verizon, has promised to bid the minimum $4.6 billion for a block of wireless spectrum that the FCC is proposing putting open access requirements on. But Google also wants the commission to allow the spectrum to be resold at wholesale prices.

“Google’s filing attempts to turn this carefully considered plan on its head," said Verizon executive VP, public affairs and former congressman Tom Tauke. "As it stands now, Google is free to participate in the auction like all other companies and implement its business plan if it is successful in winning spectrum. However, Google’s filing urges the FCC to adopt rules that force all bidders to implement Google’s business plan – which would reduce the incentives for other players to bid....The bottom line is this: without Google’s rules, the government will get literally billions more for this valuable spectrum, and the taxpayers will be the winners," he said.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin supports applying open access conditions to the block of spectrum, which would allow a range of dvices to be used rather than the current wireless regime where the service is tied to a particular phone--AT&T and iPhone being the most prominent recent example.

The 700 mHz auction rules are epxected to get a lot of attention at a House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee FCC oversight Hearing Tuesday.

The FCC is required to acution the spectrum, being reclaimed in the switch to digital broadcasting, by January 2008 and is expected to come out with the rules for the auction within the next couple of weeks to give bidders six months notice.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.