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The Federal Communications Commission believes the 700 MHz spectrum could save the U.S. from broadband duopoly, but it's apprehensive about Google's wholesale requirements

In a congressional hearing on Tuesday, three out of the five FCC commissioners told lawmakers that they are supportive of the open-access standards as proposed by FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, according to Reuters. “A network more open to devices and applications can help ensure that the fruits of innovation on the edges of the network swiftly pass into the hands of consumers,” said Martin, speaking to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Democratic commissioner John Adelstein specifically noted that an open-access approach “could open these key airwaves to badly needed competition in the broadband space.”

Republican commissioners Deborah Tate and Robert McDowell had not decided whether to support or oppose the standards, however McDowell expressed that he is leaning towards opposition.

Martin spoke to the subcommittee of a “third pipe,” expressing the necessity of an alternative to cable and DSL service for high-speed internet access into the home, particularly those who cannot be served with existing services like those living in the rural parts of America. “Depending on how the Commission structures the upcoming auction, we will either enable the emergence of a third broadband pipe -- one that would be available to rural as well as urban American -- or we will miss our biggest opportunity.”

The open-access proposal by Martin has garnered support by No. 1 wireless provider AT&T, which made a sudden reversal from the rest of the wireless industry, and was threatening litigation again open-access provisions in a time period as short as a few weeks ago. However, the plan is still opposed by No. 2 provider Verizon Wireless, and the rest of the wireless industry.

Less clear, however, is the commission’s support for Google’s vision of “open-access”, as outlined by a July 20 letter sent to FCC Chairman Martin by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, asking for “unwavering obligations to provide (1) open applications, (2) open devices, (3) open wholesale services, and (4) open network access.” 

Martin expressed reservations about Google’s proposal, which has been met with fierce criticism from the wireless industry. It’s a “giant scheme to have the 700MHz auction rigged with special conditions in its favor,” says CTIA president Steve Largent. U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich) stated, “the free market works best. And successful auctions work best without encumbrances."

Martin’s plan needs the support of a majority of the commissioners to get approval, and can be dropped off the agenda if it does not gain the necessary support. The FCC announced on Tuesday its intention to hold a commission meeting on July 31 to discuss service rules and determine the plan’s fate.

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By James Holden on 7/26/2007 12:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
More power to Google.

RE: Great
By quiksilv3r on 7/26/2007 12:59:22 PM , Rating: 3
I'm all for Google on this one...

RE: Great
By Samus on 7/26/2007 3:29:20 PM , Rating: 5
Google just doesn't want to pay some rediculous fee to license something that they aren't likely going to profit on. Cellular technology is a cut-throat business that involves ripping your customers off as much as possible.

That's not in Google's business model.

RE: Great
By HVAC on 7/27/2007 11:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
Go Google.

If they weren't in on this I would consider the "third pipe" to be the connection to the bottom of the toilet in my house.

Given the state of broadband in the US, it seems like 700MHz service will be competing to decide where it falls in the following ranking:
1) Crappy
2) Crappier
3) Crappiest

Good job congress (and the FCC) for licking telecom and cable boots so heavily that your tongue is colored with bootblack.

Way to go telecom and cable for focusing so heavily on quarterly statements and competing only in the volume of marketing materials that the actual infrastructure and service offered makes congress look competent.

RE: Great
By Pythias on 7/26/2007 1:02:45 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah! Whoohoo! I wanna be censored like China! Gogo gadget Google!

RE: Great
By tehfire on 7/26/2007 1:30:06 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not a google fan by any means, but I think they get a really bad rap about everything in China.

At the end of the day, google is giving the Chinese people a service that they would otherwise not have access to. Yes, it's censored, but it's better than nothing.

Be mad at the censorship in China, but put the blame where it is deserved - on the Chinese government. Google doesn't want to censor, but if it's a choice between giving the Chinese people nothing and giving them as much as the Chinese gov't will allow, they choose to give them something.

Power to them.

RE: Great
By therealnickdanger on 7/26/2007 4:17:53 PM , Rating: 3
Google doesn't like to censor? You should check out all the videos that YouTube bans as "hate speech" that appear on

RE: Great
By HotFoot on 7/26/2007 3:00:23 PM , Rating: 5
It's not like I agree with Google giving in to China's censorship requirements, but how many people that are giving Google a hard time are doing so on computers that were made in China's sweatshops? I'm not saying you in particular are doing this, but it seems to me that some issues are continuously swept under the rug in the name of cheap goods for consumers (and high profit margins for companies) while other issues are made examples of because you don't have to personally give anything up to put shame on Google for the way it conducts business.

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