Google Inc was set to announce on Friday it will bid on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The Silicon Valley-based company had said several months ago it was considering bidding in the auction of 700-megahertz wireless spectrum due to begin January 24. The Federal Communications Commission deadline for companies to declare their interest in joining the airwaves bidding is December 3.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on its plans.

These radio waves are being returned by broadcasters as they move from analog to digital signals early in 2009. The signals can go long distances and penetrate thick walls. The auction is seen as a last chance for a new wireless player.

Google and other Silicon Valley leaders see the wireless spectrum as a way to create more open competition for mobile services and devices than existing networks -- putting the industry on a footing similar to the free-wheeling Internet.

The company won some changes in rules governing use of the spectrum several months ago, but was denied other requests, including a rule that would have required winning bidders to resell access to their spectrum on an open wholesale basis.

Other expected bidders include AT&T Inc, and Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 and No 2. U.S. wireless network operators. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc

Google plans on bidding for the C block of 700 megahertz spectrum, one of the sources told the Wall Street Journal.

It was uncertain whether Google was considering also bidding on a separate block of spectrum reserved for public safety agencies that could be shared with commercial network operators, the report said.

If its bid proves successful, Google could operate a wireless network itself or seek partners to help it build out the network and to potentially resell wireless services.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard, editing by Doina Chiacu)