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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Google mulls spectrum auction bid
Google search homepage
Google is arguing for an "open interoperable network"
Web search giant Google will take part in a US wireless spectrum auction if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adds a key condition.

Google will meet a bid level of $4.6bn (2.24bn) - as long as auction winners also have to offer services on a wholesale basis to third parties.

The move comes after the FCC floated a plan for the spectrum sale that did not include the wholesale conditions.

Google had said the government should go further in promoting competition.

It comes after leading US phone firm AT&T backed an FCC plan that would require the winner of the auction to make some of the airwaves accessible using any device or software application.

But Google and some consumer groups had said the government should go further in opening up the wireless business to competition.

Long distance

At present, wireless carriers routinely try to restrict which models of cell phones that can be used on their networks.

They also often limit the software that can be downloaded onto them, such as ringtones, music or web browser software.

On Thursday, AT&T said it thought FCC chairman Kevin Martin had "struck an interesting and creative balance between the competing interests".

The airwaves are being sold in the 700-megahertz band and can travel long distances and penetrate walls.

Google would like to see customers to be able to buy any mobile device and be able to connect to a wireless network and have the full capability of the internet.

Speaking to financial analysts after the release of their quarterly profits, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "There is a direct connection between the open interoperable network we are arguing for in the FCC filing and so forth and the usage of Google services."

Google has filed a document with the FCC calling on it to make sure that under the rules of the spectrum auction, the networks up for grabs are open.

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