Jumat, 16 Mei 2008

Google has asked the Federal Communications Commission to verify Verizons intent to fully honor the FCCs open-access rule before issuing licenses to the wireless carrier for its winning auction bids in the C block of the 700-MHz spectrum. Failure to do so now will only foster uncertainty and delay, rather than innovation and investment, Googles petition warns.

"Action now is especially necessary given the long lead time typically required for software applications developers and device manufacturers to design, develop and deploy their products to the public, as well as the uncertainty Verizon has introduced publicly regarding its compliance with the open-access obligations," Googles attorneys explained.


In testimony before Congress last month, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin reaffirmed the intent of the open-access rule governing one-third of the spectrum offered during the FCCs auction.

"Consumers will be able to use the wireless device of their choice on those networks and download whatever legal software or applications they choose onto it," Martin told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "It will spur the next phase of wireless broadband innovation -- innovation that can make us more productive, keep us entertained, and improve our quality of life."

However, Google is clearly worried that Verizon may have other plans. Googles petition cites a letter that Verizon reportedly submitted to FCC secretary Marlene Dortch in September that stakes out an entirely different position.

"The commission should not force C Block licensees to allow any and all lawful applications to be downloaded to any devices that licensees provide, including devices that are not configured to accommodate any and all applications," Verizons letter said.

If allowed to stand, Verizons position would reverse the meaning of the rule in such a way that the open-access condition would apply to none of Verizons customers, Googles lawyers maintained.

"The commission will best promote its goals by reiterating those obligations and rejecting, at the time of license grant, Verizons so-called two-door position regarding these obligations," Googles lawyers said. "Verizon cannot be allowed to become a C Block licensee while it simultaneously seeks to undermine a core public-interest obligation of C block licensees."


Last November, Verizon appeared to be moving toward a more open network posture when it announced an "open development initiative" under which any device that meets the minimum technical standards would be permitted on the carriers existing wireless network. However, industry observers once again began questioning the extent of Verizons open-access commitment after the carrier launched an unsuccessful challenge to the legality of the provision before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Google notes that the same legal argument continues to be championed by the CTIA mobile industry trade organization, of which Verizon is a member. From Googles perspective, the prospects for its Android mobile-device platform would be greatly diminished should Verizons two-door policy be allowed to prevail.

"The question of whether Verizons C block network will be open to any applications on any device has an enormous impact on would-be customers, software applications developers, equipment manufacturers, service providers, investors, and others having a substantial interest in the prompt development of an open C Block network," Googles attorneys said.


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