After a few days of rumors that AT&T might sue the FCC over the proposed open access rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction, the carrier surprisingly said it supports Martin's plan. "We think Chairman Martin's plan is a creative compromise that balances the interests of companies and consumers," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president of public policy. Martin's proposal has not been made explicitly public yet, but according to a report from USA Today, it calls for open access for all national licenses with the exception of one reserved block for public safety. The open access rule would require bidders to allow users to connect any device to the network loaded with the software they want. AT&T's Cicconi said the rumors about the lawsuit were wrong: "That was never the case. Nor did we ever say that."
Verizon Wireless, however, is still very much against the proposed rules for open access and special rules for the upcoming auction: "We remain guided in our principled belief that open and fair auctions serve everybody best: consumers, innovators, U.S. taxpayers. To rig the 700 MHz auction in any way--to limit its value and potential to deliver exciting new products and services--would be a huge disservice to the nation. Corporate welfare for Google is bad public policy."
According to AT&T's Cicconi, the Martin proposal is not "corporate welfare" for Google but rather a "put-up or shut up" challenge to the Web company: "It's a big block (of spectrum) and it would allow them to offer a national service if they are serious about doing that." If Google doesn't meet the reserve set by Martin, then the FCC could remove the open access requirements.
For more on AT&T and Verizon's take on the Martin proposal:
- read this press release from VZW
- check out this USA Today report
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