FCC Pays Open Access Wireless Networks Some Lip Service
from the appearance-of-activity dept
Without question, there's some gamesmanship going on here. If Google really wants to own spectrum licenses and have a network that follows its open access principles, there's nothing preventing it from bidding in the auction, winning licenses, and either running its network that way, or leasing the licenses to somebody who will. What's more likely, though, is that Google simply wants the ability to buy wholesale network access, rather than own licenses or build its own network. Again, there's nothing preventing it from entering into such a deal with any license holder, but requiring all the license holders to wholesale access would create a more competitive market and drive down prices. But perhaps the bigger game here is the political one by the FCC. These open access rules, really, are pretty toothless, and perhaps that's best illustrated by the fact that both AT&T and Verizon support them. The device requirement could easily be rendered meaningless by the winning bidder's choice of technology for their network. Using a proprietary or unpopular technology would likely mean that the only outlet to purchase compatible devices would be from the network provider. The open access to services requirement is one the operators would likely follow anyway, since blocking access to certain sites and services wouldn't make their wireless broadband services too popular with consumers.
While perhaps these rules represent a small first step for the FCC towards fostering a more competitive broadband, they seem much more like a missed opportunity to affect some real change. It seems like more than anything, this is a bit of smoke and mirrors that makes it look, to the casual observer, like the FCC's done something significant, when it's actually done very little -- and that would fit with the persistent whispering about Martin's political ambitions.