updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon May 5, 2008
Google Accuses Verizon
Google has filed an FCC petition asking that the FCC drop Verizon's $4.7 billion winning bid in the recent 700MHz wireless auction. Filed late last week, the motion accuses Verizon of 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, which would require that any 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 adds.
Verizon's approach to the open access rules has often been regarded as contradictory. The US telecoms firm 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, in turn, is one of the chief architects of the open access rules and offered a $4.6 billion minimum bid to force the open access terms on any company that might outbid it in the now concluded auction. The search engine pioneer 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.
Neither Google nor Verizon has publicly commented on the petition. [via IP Democracy]