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AT&T, Verizon oppose Google's airwaves plan

FCC being urged to reject proposal on leasing

WASHINGTON -- AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, the two biggest US mobile-phone companies, urged US regulators to reject Google Inc.'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 this week with the Federal Communications Commission. Qualcomm Inc., the world's second-biggest maker of cellphone chips, also is fighting the proposal, telling the FCC that there's "no legitimate basis" for it.

Google last month asked the agency to declare that winning bidders can 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, based in Mountain View, Calif., 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 on mobile devices. Television broadcasters will free up the airwaves when they convert to digital signals in 2009.

Frontline Wireless LLC, a closely held company, 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 at no cost.