Verizon's Melone: We've got net neutrality covered

LAS VEGAS--Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone said the carrier's LTE effort appears positioned to adhere to whatever net neutrality regulations the FCC may impose--thanks to the existing, open-access requirements attached to Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum.

Verizon spent close to $10 billion on spectrum licenses auctioned out by the FCC during the 2008 700 MHz spectrum auction. The block of spectrum the carrier purchased--the C Block--carried with it open-access requirements, stipulations that required the licensee to provide access on the resulting network to any suitable device and any suitable application.

During a press event here at the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference, Verizon's Melone said the carrier plans to meet the FCC's open-access requirements with its forthcoming LTE network, which will be built in the carrier's 700 MHz C-Block spectrum holdings. Further, Melone said the FCC's open-access provisions appear to track with the agency's proposed net neutrality regulations.

"We believe the open-access requirements will align with whatever happens on net neutrality," Melone said.

The FCC's net neutrality push has sparked widespread turmoil in a wireless industry wary of any extra government regulation and intervention. Although the details of the FCC's net neutrality effort have yet to be finalized and codified, the main elements of the effort--unfettered Internet access--appear to be very similar to the open-access stipulations the FCC put on the 700 MHz C Block. Thus, Verizon essentially agreed to many of the agency's net neutrality guidelines when it bid for and won the 700 MHz C Block.

Melone argued that Verizon's bid for the 700 MHz C Block was part of a broader strategy by the carrier to open its business. Providing open access to devices and applications is "how you will be successful on the market," Melone said.

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