If the FCC can ensure an open platform, Google has promised
to bid at least $4.6 billion on the FCC’s upcoming 700 MHz auction,
according to a Friday press
release.Google specified requirements in a prior letter to the FCC on July 9th, detailing what Google feels are appropriate,
enforceable rules regarding the FCC’s vaguely defined open access principles.
“While these all are positive steps, unfortunately the current draft order falls short of including the four tailored and enforceable conditions, with meaningful implementation deadlines, that consumer groups, other companies, and Google have sought,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt writes. “In short, when Americans can use the software and handsets of their choice, over open and competitive networks, they win.”
Google’s insistence on its four requirements further expands FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s open-access rules. The FCC has not voted on open-access rules yet, which Martin first proposed earlier this month. Closed devices like the iPhone and locked cell phones, which prevent users from taking the phones to different networks, are the root of such concerns. Martin wants users to be able to “use any wireless device and download any mobile broadband application, with no restrictions.”
Currently, mobile technologies readily available in other
parts of the world are only now making it to the United States.
“I am concerned
that we are seeing some innovations being rolled out more slowly here than we
are in other parts of the world,” said Martin in an interview with USA Today.
Technologies such as WiFi on cell phones, a feature readily available in Europe and other parts of the world, have been suppressed by wireless carriers in the United States as such services allow them to circumvent the services that they provide.
Google’s four requirements define an open wireless network and explicitly specify the applications, devices and networks remain free of the kinds of restrictions found on today’s existing wireless offerings. An important fourth requirement and the source of much discussion is Google’s “open services” clause, which specifies, “third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis,” paving the way for resellers and value-added services.
The auction for the 700 MHz spectrum, vacated by TV as it
moves to the digital realm, will take place in January 2008 and carries a
minimum reserve of $4.6 billion.