Verizon Wireless Drops Spectrum Auction Opposition

A major hurdle is cleared for the FCC's sale of spectrum based on open network principles favored by Google.

Verizon Wireless dropped its legal opposition Oct. 22 to the rules for Januarys highly anticipated 700MHz auction, rules Google has fought to preserve.

Verizon, the nations second-largest wireless carrier, called the auction rules "arbitrary, capacious and … contrary to law" in a September appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but withdrew its opposition Oct. 22. The filing said only that the change of course was in light of the courts decision Oct. 3 to deny Verizons request for an expedited proceeding.

The decision removes a major obstacle to the Federal Communications Commissions sale of the airwaves being abandoned by broadcasters as part of the digital television transition. The FCCs auction rules for the 22MHz closely mirror the auction suggestions of Google and others. While Google has not formally announced it will bid on the spectrum, it has pledged to the FCC that it will meet the $4.6 billion bid minimum if open-access requirements are attached to the auction.

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Verizon Wireless and AT&T, in particular, contended that open-access rules would favor one business model over another.

The FCC set aside a prime slice of 22MHz for open access, requiring the winning bidder to allow any legal handset or software application to be used on the network. Incumbent wireless carriers currently restrict the types of devices and software that can run on their networks. The rules also run contrary to the FCCs policy over the last decade of awarding spectrum to the highest bidder.

The incumbent wirelesss limited access network rules were highlighted this summer with Apples much touted iPhone release. The phone is only available through a two-year service plan from AT&T.

The auction is expected to generate as much as $15 billion. The spectrum is considered ideal for delivering advance wireless services, since the signals can travel great distances and penetrate walls and other barriers to reception.


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