Search-engine giant Google today announced it has applied to bid in upcoming 700 MHz auction, confirming speculation that has surrounded the company’s advocacy for open-access networks operating in the band.

The announcement assures that there will be at least one new participant in the 700 MHz auction, which will begin on Jan. 24. While some industry observers believed Google might bid on spectrum as part of a consortium, such as an alliance of content providers, the company today stated that it plans to bid alone.

Most industry observers believe Google’s lobbying efforts seeking open networks on 700 MHz spectrum were critical in persuading the FCC to establish open-access requirements for the winner of the 22 MHz C Block.

"We believe it's important to put our money where our principles are," said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google. "Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today's wireless world. No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet."

However, Google did not disclose which blocks of 700 MHz spectrum it would pursue at auction, Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said today during an interview with MRT.

Wireless industry consultant Andrew Seybold said Google could bid on any of the four blocks of spectrum during the auction, including the D Block, which is expected to be coupled with public-safety spectrum to provide the foundation for a nationwide broadband wireless network for public safety.

However, Seybold said Google’s first priority likely will be the C Block. During an interview with MRT yesterday, Seybold said he believes Google will make bids to ensure that the $4.6 billion reserve price for the block is met, thereby guaranteeing that networks built on that spectrum are subject to the FCC’s open-access provisions. If the reserve price is not met, the FCC has indicated the spectrum would be reauctioned without the open-access requirements being associated with it.

Potential bidders in the 700 MHz auction must submit their applications to the FCC by Monday. After the FCC reviews these applications, the agency will release the names of the potential bidders in December. Under the FCC’s anonymous bidding rules for this auction, the agency will not disclose which licenses the bidders will pursue.