The FCC approved a set of auction rules today for the crucial 700 MHz spectrum. For 22 MHz of the spectrum, the rules apparently include some openness conditions, as Chairman Martin had indicated was likely. On the other hand, the rules do not require any spectrum to be operated on a wholesale basis with the goal of supporting multiple retail service providers, as CDT and others had urged
The text of the rules isn't yet publicly available, which makes it hard to say whether this is best characterized as a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty scenario. For example, it isn't clear to us how broadly the requirement for openness to applications will be phrased and how it will be interpreted and enforced.
It's pretty clear that the conditions fall well short of what Google had been publicly advocating in recent weeks. But the media's excessive focus on Google
, probably fueled by efforts of incumbent carriers to portray openness conditions as a money grab by Google, was neither helpful nor accurate. Yesterday's front-page article in the Washington Post even characterized public interest groups as lobbying on Google's behalf on the spectrum issue, and suggested that Google was responsible for recruiting various groups and companies to lobby for "its [Google's] idea of an open network."
In truth, it's not just Google's idea. The idea of an open network with no gatekeepers is one of the core principles that CDT has been fighting for since its inception, and a number of advocacy groups and academics have been working to promote open spectrum and open networks for years.
Read more »