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Google poised to bid billions in US wireless auction July 21, 2007

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Google said Friday it would bid as much as $4.6 billion to buy US wireless licenses in an upcoming government auction if rules include keeping the frequencies open to anyone.

The US Internet giant told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it will bid the money if the agency ensures the winner allows all companies access. While Google refuses to discuss rumors it is working on a mobile telephone, it has clear interest in expanding into wireless service markets.

Google says its offer to meet the minimum bid in the federal government’s auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz band is intended to promote greater competition and choice in Internet and mobile phone arenas.

“It strikes us as unfair that some people should enjoy such abundant access to this rich resource while billions of others are not so lucky,” Google’s head of special initiatives, Chris Sacca, wrote on the US Internet giant’s Web site. “Though the technology exists today to provide access on a global scale, often we have learned technology is not the problem.”

In a July 9 letter, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt endorsed FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s suggestions that open access be among the rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction.

Google will be a bidder if the FCC insists the frequencies remain open to any Internet companies or resellers of wireless services and that customers are free to choose among them, according to Schmidt.

“We are putting consumers’ interests first, and putting our money where our principles are, to the tune of $4.6 billion,” Sacca wrote. Sacca said the FCC auction was a rare chance to break the stranglehold of a small group of companies on the US wireless spectrum for mobile telephones and data.

Opponents of allowing open access contend the move would devalue the spectrum and result in the government making less money. Google stands to benefit from opening the spectrum, an idea which has been opposed by the administration of US President George Bush.

“This is one of the best opportunities we will have to bring the Internet to all Americans,” Sacca wrote. “Let us seize that opportunity.”


EU Tube > Sights and sounds of Europe on YouTube July 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, YouTube.
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The European Commission has launched a dedicated channel on YouTube to make its audiovisual material more widely available to the public.

“This initiative reflects the Commission’s commitment to better explain its policies and actions on issues which concern citizens across the EU, such as climate change, energy or immigration.” said Margot Wallström, Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy.

‘EU Tube, the Commission’s new channel on YouTube, was launched on June 29. The non-exclusive arrangement between the European Commission and YouTube aims to present new and innovative ways of informing people on the activities of the European Union through video clips that illustrate the main issues facing citizens from across the 27 member states.

Currently, users can watch approximately 50 video clips on a wide-range of topics, from the EU’s first post-war historical steps to today’s need to safeguard the environment and combat climate change.

To begin with, much of the content is in English, but French and German language clips are also being added. Other languages will be added wherever possible.

“It is very important for the Commission to use all the means at its disposal when it comes to communicating with European citizens. We can not ignore the developments which have taken place on the internet in the past few years, in particular the popularity of video sharing sites such as YouTube”, said Margot Wallström

Discover what’s on EU Tube > www.youtube.com/eutube

YouTube to be available on mobile phones July 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, Mobile Telecoms, YouTube.
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Video-sharing website YouTube will be accessible by mobile phones in many parts of the world by next year, the website’s co-founder and chief technology officer Steve Chen said on Saturday.

Speaking at a forum on the internet in his home country of Taiwan, Chen said that websites should provide richer content and greater mobility, enabling users to access such sites from anywhere in the world. He said commuters on subways or buses are likely to access videos of between 30 to 60 seconds each, while people travelling on longer train journeys would probably go for files of up to 10 minutes in length.

Chen was born in Taiwan in 1978 and emigrated to the US with his family eight years later. He set up the video-sharing website in San Mateo, California, with colleague Chad Hurley in 2005, after they found their video files too large to e-mail. Within a year of its launch, they sold YouTube to Google for US$1.65 billion.

Google defends data policy after European warning May 29, 2007

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Google will tell Brussels it needs to hold on to users’ search data for up to two years for security and commercial reasons after being warned it could be violating European privacy laws by doing so, Reuters reports.

The world’s top Internet search engine on Friday said it would respond by June 19 to a letter from a European Union data protection advisory group expressing concern it was keeping information on users’ searches for too long.

“The concern of EU law is that a company that collects data on its customers should keep it as long as it is necessary, but not longer,” Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Google shares were untroubled by the warning, rising 1.7 percent to $482.26 by 1456 GMT.

With every search, Google gathers information about a customer’s tastes, interests and beliefs that could potentially be used by third parties such as advertisers, but the company stresses it never passes it on. Google last week received a letter from the Article 29 working party, a group of national advisory bodies that counsels the EU on privacy policy, which asked the company to justify its data retention practices.

“I will tell the working party that Google needs to hold on to its log database to protect itself and the system from attacks and refine and improve the effectiveness of our search results,” Fleischer said. He said Google, at its own initiative, had decided in March to limit the time it kept engine search information to between 18 and 24 months. The company previously had no set time limit. He called on rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft to clarify their data retention practices and policies. “Will the working party focus on other players in the industry?” Fleischer asked.

Google’s internet holy grail May 19, 2007

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Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has begun the first major overhaul of its search function, taking the first steps towards what it is calling the universal search, an internet holy grail in which text, video, news, maps and local services will all be posted in a single coherent list.

The move is both a technological challenge, company executives said they had “melted down a data centre or two along the way”, and also a natural next step following a flurry of acquisitions of services spanning photographs (Picasa) and online video (YouTube).

Google gave a demonstration of the new concept at its Googleplex headquarters in Silicon Valley. On the website itself, the change was only modestly noticeable. A search for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 included a YouTube video of Evgeny Kissin performing the piece, but otherwise looked much as it might have done the day before.

“At first, universal search results may be subtle,” the company said. “Over time users will recognise additional types of content integrated into their search results as the company advances toward delivering a truly comprehensive search experience.” A search for the Star Wars character Darth Vader, for example, would previously have focussed on web-page mentions of the movie. Now, the company said, users can expect a set of “blended search results” including a parody of the movie, images of Darth, and news reports.

The more precise search returns are, the more they can interest advertisers who can tailor their messages to very specific audiences. “The thing everyone is wondering right now is, what will an advertiser be willing to pay for a video link,” said the analyst Martin Pykkonen, of Global Crown Capital. Last year Google had revenues of more than $10.6bn and a net profit of more than $3.5bn.