As the US Federal Communications Commission auctions off the coveted 700-MHz "C Block" - a prime portion of the American airwaves - bidding has topped $4.6bn. And that's a key number.
$4.6bn is the "reserve price" for the C Block, and now that the FCC has at least that much in hand, we can be sure this juicy slice of wireless spectrum will include an "open access" requirement - a much-discussed clause that says the winning bidder must allow access to any device and any application.
What we don't know is which bidder triggered the open access clause. This is a secret auction. But we're guessing it was Google.
Bidding passed the reserve price this morning, in round seventeen of the FCC auction, when the C Block price hit $4.7bn. There were no bids during the previous three rounds, as the price stagnated at $4.3bn.
Chances are, Google is battling Verizon for the rights to 700-MHz C Block, but some Reg readers believe that AT&T will make a play as well. When it comes to the 700-MHz band, AT&T has been much quieter than Verizon over the past several months, but like Verizon, it recently made a point of saying it adores open access. When AT&T starts behaving like that, you know something's up.
Of course, Verizon has acted in even more ridiculous ways. First, it threw a US appeals court at the FCC, tying to get the open access requirement removed. Then it said it's current network would be open by the end of the year.
If AT&T or Verizon wins the C Block, we question how open the airwaves will truly be. But one thing's for sure: Whoever wins the block, they'll be prone to ridiculous behavior.
According to an interview in Fortune, Google's head honchos - co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt - have promised to be business buddies until 2024.
Fortune: "Will you all work at Google for the rest of your careers?"
Schmidt: "We agreed to work together for how long, gentlemen?"
Brin: "Twenty years."
Fortune: "Really? When did you make that agreement?"
Schmidt: "Two years, seven months, and four days ago. But who's counting? Actually, we agreed the month before we went public that we would work together for 20 years. I will be 69, and according to Google I'm going to live to 84, so I should be fine."
So, the US airwaves may soon be in the hands of a company that claims to know when people are going to die. ®