Google plans to announce Friday its intent to apply to bid for wireless spectrum in a Federal Communications Commission auction scheduled for January 24, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter. The FCC has a Dec. 3 deadline for companies to declare their interest in bidding. Earlier this month, the WSJ said Google was preparing to bid at least $4.6B, the minimum reserve price (full story). At that time, a Google spokesman commented the company's goal "is to make sure that American consumers have more choices in an open and competitive wireless world." On Thursday, Verizon Wireless said it plans to open its network to any device and software by the end of next year. The decision was widely applauded and called a "great step forward" by Google CEO Eric Schmidt (full story). Google faces bidding competition from both Verizon and AT&T, however, Eric Savitz of Barron's, noted an Internet analyst at UBS believes a Google bid at this stage -- given the FCC's decision to make the 700MHz band of spectrum "open-access" as Google had advocated and Verizon's "Any Apps - Any Device" announcement -- is merely to "save face" and will only be for the minimum reserve price. Shares of Google rose 0.7% to $697.00 on Thursday and added another 0.6% to $701.00 in extended trading.
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