Verizon Wireless softens stance on 700 MHz open access

Verizon Wireless softens stance on 700 MHz open access
Verizon Wireless softened its staunch opposition to open access rules in the 700 MHz band. According to The Wall Street Journal, the operator said it would accept some modified rules for the auction of the spectrum, saying it would agree to stipulations that the winner of a portion of the spectrum be required to open up the network to any device. But Verizon Wireless wants to make sure the winner would not be held responsible if applications such as games, video and Internet access don't work well. And it shouldn't be in charge of filtering out any offensive content either.

Verizon has long argued that allowing outside applications poses possible quality and security problems, which, in the past, has led it to disable features on devices such as Bluetooth. But many have seen that stance as an excuse to keep outside applications off Verizon's network.

Verizon's move follows the revelation from Google last week that it would bid a minimum of $4.6 billion if the FCC meets its demands for open access--that is open devices, open applications, open wholesale services and open network access. And a majority of the FCC commissioners told a House subcommittee this week that they support Chairman Kevin Martin's initial proposal to include open-access requirements on one third of the 700 MHz spectrum. Martin's draft plan allows for open access but falls short of the wholesale services requirement Google has sought.

Verizon Wireless, I'm sure, sees the writing on the wall. Plus it can't risk Google getting its way. Providing a united front with AT&T, which recently said it supports Martin's open-access plan, helps to ensure the 700 MHz band doesn't get any more "open" than what Martin has proposed. Who knows, if Verizon gets its way on this one, it may find a lucrative business in ensuring that Verizon-approved content works better than any open application.--Lynnette

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