Verizon Gives Up FCC Suit
After sufficient sound and fury from Verizon’s camp filing suit against the Federal Communications Commission to overturn rules governing a block of 700 MHz wireless spectrum, the telecom has dismissed its suit.
Not because of any crisis of conscience, mind you, but because the Court of Appeals refused to hear the case in advance of the auction. The C band of spectrum, derisively called the "Google block" by incumbents, is a 22 MHz swathe of the 700 MHz spectrum valuable because of its ability to penetrate buildings.
The spectrum will be released from use by broadcast television networks and is thought to be ideal for both wireless telephones and wireless broadband delivery. Google has said it will "probably" bid in the auction, given that certain rules are in place to ensure competition in the wireless space.
The jury is still out on whether Google will use the spectrum itself, or lease it out to a would-be telecom competitor, but the spectrum would make a nice addition to all the dark fiber Google has acquired over years, meaning that Google could become an ISP itself if the company so desired.
Some optimists have even dared hope for an advertising-supported network, courtesy of Google.
Verizon, like AT&T, wanted the spectrum to itself with no rules placed on it. AT&T has signaled it may not participate in the auction by buying up Aloha, which owned its own swathe of the spectrum already without restrictions. In order for Verizon to do the same, it would have to buyout Qualcomm, the only other company to privately own a piece of this particular spectrum.
Microsoft’s Don Dodge very elegantly describes why this band of spectrum is so valuable:
The 700MHz spectrum is more powerful than the current cell phone spectrum, can go through walls much easier, and it is cheaper to deploy. Because the spectrum is more powerful it requires fewer transmitters and towers, making it much less expensive to build out a nationwide network. We are talking 50% less, ore eveen 70% less.
Hence all the fighting. And what of Microsoft? Dodge says Microsoft isn’t interested in spectrum, as its not part of the company’s core business. Then again, search and game consoles aren’t really, either.