Google announced on Friday it will place a $4.6 billion bid for a portion of the 700MHz wireless spectrum up for grabs in a Federal Communications Commission auction to take place in January.

The FCC will open up the current broadcast television spectrum for use by wireless networks in order to help promote more interactivity between devices. It has dictated that minimum bids will start at $4.6 billion.

The network rules for the auctioned spectrum will allow any device with any software installed to run on the network. This will be a different operating model than most US cell phone carriers have used until now, where tightly controlled services requiring input from wireless carriers have been the norm.

Meanwhile, speculation has arisen that Google may be joined by Apple as a bidding partner for the spectrum, a move which would put Apple at least in indirect competition with AT&T. Apple's current contract with AT&T requires that the iPhone be sold exclusively on its network for five years.

Carl Howe, an Apple analyst at Blackfriars Communications said Friday that Apple would not likely bid on the spectrum itself.

I don't think they are trying for any exclusive deal here. Most likely they will work with Google, the reason for this is that Eric Schmidt (Google's CEO)is on the board of Apple and these two companies work together on a variety of areas, he said.

Google has shifted much of its attention to cell phones in recent months, having introduced its Android operating system earlier this month. The company has also its program developments just for handsets, such as the iPhone's Google Maps utility.