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
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.”
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