Google asks FCC to drop Verizon bid in wireless spectrum auction

Google has asked the FCC to drop Verizon’s $4.7 billion winning bid in the recent 700MHz wireless auction.

Google says the wireless carrier is planning to use its Any App, Any Device plan to shelter customers buying its own devices from having to follow FCC open access guidelines set out before the auction. Those rules require that 700MHz service on the relevant spectrum support any legal device or software regardless of which company has sold either component.

Verizon’s plan forces users of truly open devices to follow a different set of rules while those who buy from Verizon itself are trapped, Google claims.

“Verizon believes it may force customers who want to access the open platform using a device not purchased from Verizon to go through ‘Door No. 1,’ while allowing customers who obtain their device from Verizon access through ‘Door No. 2.,’” Google writes. “[The] position would completely reverse the meaning of the rule such that the open access condition would apply to none of Verizon’s customers.”

To keep its bid intact, Verizon will have to both dismiss its earlier statements excusing itself from open access for certain customers and promise to apply its own rules properly, Google said.

Verizon’s approach to the open access rules has often been regarded as contradictory, IDG reported. The carrier actively fought the open access terms under claims that it would restrict innovation and went so far as to file a lawsuit that would have forced the FCC to accept closed access. Some reports also alleged that Verizon engaged in direct lobbying to pressure the FCC. However, the company suddenly dropped its challenge in fall 2007 after deciding that the FCC auction rules wouldn’t affect its existing business.

Google hopes to guarantee open access to encourage use of devices based on its Android operating system as well as custom Google apps written for specific devices.