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Verizon Tries To Block the Google Block

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Verizon Wireless is not happy about the FCC’s draft to set aside the "Google block" of spectrum that will have conditions attached requiring that wireless customers are given more choice in how they access the network.

 In the draft, FCC chairman Kevin Martin has proposed that about a third of the spectrum be set aside and that auction winners not be allowed to restrict what devices can be used to access and what third-party applications can be downloaded.

Phone companies, protecting their last bastion of price manipulation, have long decided what phones are acceptable on their networks and have restricted potentially competing software and hardware. IPhone is the latest example, which is only available on AT&T’s network. Other times, phone companies have required phone manufacturers to strip WiFi capabilities so customers cannot bypass their pay-for-play networks.

Though the "Google block" is only a  third of the spectrum available, Verizon and other wireless providers are worried that Martin’s prediction will come true: If a competitor keeps their network open, they’ll have to do so as well.

Verizon Wireless VP and general counsel Steve Zipperstein took his testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, complaining that auction restrictions were unfair and that Congress should refuse calls for open access regulation.

Zipperstein argued that the FCC should not be in the position of pre-determining or telegraphing auction winners, or set special rules that prevent the highest bidders from winning all of the spectrum.

It is assumed that Google will bid on the "Google block," but Google has not committed to that yet. Verizon would prefer that the whole 700 MHz spectrum be up for grabs, but concerned opponents fear that incumbent phone companies will buy it up and hoard it for themselves, manipulating prices and innovation the way they’ve been known to do in the past.

Zipperstein denies that is the case.

"The wireless industry has produced a steady stream of innovations — from devices, to applications, to features — that have given American consumers myriad choices about how they use their wireless service," he said, somehow with a straight face. "Consumer choice would be the casualty of policies that mandate that all companies do the same thing the same way."

He forgot to mention how the rest of the world laughs at the US’s mobile phone developments, inordinately high rates, and 7000% markup for text messaging. Consumer choice would dictate, indeed, if incumbents gave them a choice, in wireless or in broadband access.

Verizon Tries To Block the Google Block
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