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FCC greenlights open access rules for 700MHz auction

updated 03:55 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2007

FCC Approves Open 700MHz

The open access rules demanded by the FCC for the 700MHz spectrum have been largely approved in advance of the auction for the frequencies, the US broadcast agency announced on Tuesday. As proposed by the government body's chariman Kevin Martin, 22MHz of the 60MHz to be abandoned by analog broadcast TV in 2009 will require that any licensed operator allow any cellphone, notebook, or other device to operate on the spectrum. Operators will also have to allow any software to run on the network and therefore could not block VoIP or other services to artificially create business, the FCC noted. Many companies have expressed interest in the frequencies due to their exceptionally long ranges and penetration through walls, which could spur the development of faster, more reliable cellphone and mobile Internet access.

Opening part of the 700MHz range will also allow for a universal emergency network that should allow fire crews, hospitals, and police to collaborate together when indoors -- a problem during the World Trade Center attacks, when a lack of teamwork and interference from the buildings prevented rescue teams from understanding the full scope of the disaster in time to safely exit the collapsing structures.

However, the FCC simultaneously denied a condition backed by Google which would have required any licensees resulting from the auction to sell the rights to other companies at wholesale rates. The stipulation was intended to permit startups and other smaller companies to piggyback on larger companies' services without the threat of restrictive pricing or limited terms. Bidders will still be free to resell their part of the spectrum in bulk, but Google is no longer expected to place its suggested $4.6 billion bid that was dependent upon the wholesale terms.

AT&T and Verizon had at first directly opposed the open access concept but gradually relented with the belief that they could retain their existing subscription models that demand contracts. AT&T's multi-year agreement with Apple for the iPhone was nevertheless cited during a Congressional debate as an example of the problems created by allowing devices to be limited to individual company networks.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. l008com

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2000



    But what if verizon doesn't want the iPhone on their network? Does the law mean that now Verizon HAS to support iphone & its features? This kind of doesn't make sense. Verizon wants to soak you for every little feature, like taking a picture, adding a ringtone etc.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: but

    It has to support the phone, not the features. The point of 'open access' is to make the spectrum open like land-lines are open. You can plug any device into a phone line (of course, being it has been approved by the FCC and such as following the standard protocols of the phone system) and it has to be allowed to work. This is the law that allowed you to buy and plug in your own phones in your house, use modems without paying the phone company, the advent of fax machines, and many other advances.

    So, in this spectrum, if Microsoft wants to make an iPhone killer, they can do whatever they want, people can buy it, and it will just work, regardless of the provider you have.

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