The FCC will be auctioning off old TV spectrum in 2008 and they are hard at work today creating a set of rules for the auction. Past spectrum auctions are dominated by really big companies with lots of money (and lobbyists) and this auction will be no different except there’s a new kid on the block named Google. And Google thinks the FCC should require openness:
- Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
- Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
- Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
- Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.
Yesterday the FCC voted to require 1 and 2. Sad not to have 3 which would have really opened up the spectrum but any openness is welcome. Of course, enforcement of the openness will be another issue.
Given that AT&T is happy about the decision (see the Kapustka link), it may be (as Susan Crawford feels) unenforceable.