FCC Fails To Mark Its Place In History

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The FCC released the auction rules on the 700 MHz spectrum today. Google formally requested (and we supported) that the new bandwidth have four requirements: open applications, open devices, open services and open networks. Together these rules could quickly make the U.S. wireless space competitive with European and Asian markets that we have long trailed.

The auction rules include much of what Google requested, including open devices and open applications. But open services and open networks are out, meaning third parties may not get access to the networks at fair wholesale rates. Will we see a tidal wave of innovation in the space? It’s too early to tell. The FCC hedged its bets to keep AT&T, Verizon and other incumbents happy. New players like Google may or may not participate.

This is clearly a compromise decision. History will decide if the FCC commissioners made the right choices. Perhaps their feeble attempts to stand up to AT&T, Verizon and their army of lobbyists will have been enough to get the U.S. back in the race with the rest of the mobile world. Or perhaps not. Just for record keeping purposes, Kevin Martin (Chairman) and commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps are willing to fight for openness. Commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell, who are parroting much of the nonsense that AT&T spewed last week, are clearly lining up with the incumbents.

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