Apple Inc. may bid for the rights to a wireless spectrum auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission, a risky but intriguing move that would help carry the consumer electronics company into the telecommunications realm.
Citing unnamed sources, BusinessWeek reported Monday that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs had "studied the implications" of bidding on the spectrum, which analog TV broadcasters will return to the government in 2009 as they switch to digital television. Analysts have speculated that Google Inc. and EBay Inc. also may bid.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
The auction -- which the FCC says will occur in January and could raise as much as $15 billion -- will determine rights to a 700-megahertz network with faster Internet access than cellular or Wi-Fi networks offer.
If Apple bid and won, it could offer service on its iPhone, which now runs exclusively on AT&T's network and requires a two-year contract for $60 a month. Apple could change the terms or even grant free access.