Google seeks change to FCC spectrum auction rules

Google warned last week that any attempt to change FCC spectrum auction rules concerning open access would “seriously undermine the promise of consumers seeking more choices of wireless providers and services.”

Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington, D.C., media and telecom counsel, wrote in an online policy blog that when the FCC voted in July to adopt its spectrum band plan and license conditions for the upcoming 700MHz auction that it was “natural to assume” that was the end of the regulatory story.

“To the contrary, it seems that a ‘final’ vote by a federal government agency is merely the beginning of a new phase in the process,“ he wrote.

Verizon has filed a lawsuit against the FCC, seeking to overturn the commission’s attempt to bring open access to a portion of the spectrum in the 700MHz auction. The telco, unhappy with the FCC’s decision, threatened to have next January’s auction itself halted unless the open access provisions are eliminated.

More recently, various news reports said Verizon is lobbying behind the scenes to convince FCC chairman Kevin Martin to water down key aspects of the open access provisions.

Whitt, calling that lobbying effort a violation of FCC rules, said Google is still “carefully analyzing whether and how we might participate in the upcoming auction.”

However, he said, “If we do end up bidding and ultimately win the spectrum in question, we would ensure that consumers have the right to decide which devices and applications they want to use on our network.”

Whitt called on the FCC to “stick to its guns” as it tries “to introduce the open ethos of the Internet to a small segment of the closed wireless world.”