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Originally published June 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 8, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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AT&T, Verizon oppose Google airwave proposal

AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two biggest U.S. mobile-phone companies, urged U.S. regulators to reject Google's proposal for the mandatory...

Bloomberg News

AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two biggest U.S. mobile-phone companies, urged U.S. regulators to reject Google's proposal for the mandatory resale of some airwaves the government plans to auction by January.

Google's plan would disrupt the auction and diminish the airwaves' value, AT&T and Verizon said in separate comments filed Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Qualcomm, the world's second-biggest maker of mobile-phone chips, also is fighting the proposal, telling the FCC Wednesday it has "no legitimate basis."

Google, operator of the world's most-visited group of Web sites, last month asked the agency to declare that winning bidders may lease unused airwaves to other carriers at wholesale rates, using a real-time auction process that would resemble Google's method of setting ad prices on its search engine.

Google also urged the commission to seek comment on whether to "mandate such treatment for some, or even all" of the airwaves to be sold in the government auction.

The auction, involving airwaves valued at as much as $15 billion, may be the biggest of its kind. The airwaves are coveted by telephone, cable and satellite companies that want to offer more high-speed Internet content, such as video clips, on mobile devices. Television broadcasters will free up the airwaves when they convert to digital signals in 2009.

Frontline Wireless, a closely held company whose founders include former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, welcomed Google's proposal. Frontline wants to buy 10 megahertz of the spectrum at the auction to create a wireless Internet-protocol network that public-safety officials would use for free.

The Greensboro, N.C.-based company has proposed leasing the airwaves at wholesale rates to commercial carriers when the spectrum isn't in use by safety agencies. Frontline yesterday told the FCC it would try Google's auction technique if it won the airwaves.

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