Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held an oversight hearing of the FCC and heard from Chairman Kevin Martin and the other four Commissioners. A number of topics were discussed, but the big one looming was the 700MHz auction.
Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) started the questioning with a consumer friendly question of the Commissioners, whether or not consumers should be able to take their mobile phone with them when they switch carriers. On this, Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein, Michael Copps, and Chairman Martin were in agreement, but Commissioners Deborah Tate and Robert McDowell said they were still considering the issue:
At the end of the three-hour hearing, Markey came back to the two undecided Commissioners and asked them again. After both said they were still undecided on the issue, Markey noted some 31 years ago when he first started his tenure on the Committee, he was told by AT&T that attaching a non-AT&T phone to the wire network could bring the whole thing down…
Device portability, or “open devices” are just a part of what’s needed to create a third broadband pipe. We’ve talked about here it before, but there are four principles in all that define the concept of open access in these 700MHz auctions. Each of them addresses a separate facet of the wireless market that is begging for competition and more openness. The important thing to remember is that without each of the four principles, the incumbent wireless companies will maintain the status quo.
Of course, Google’s $4.6 Billion commitment to the 700MHz auction contingent on the four-principled open access has drawn a lot of attention to the issue, perhaps it has not been in a way that the average person understands. In an effort to try to explain the four principles, we’ve created the following videos (the fourth principle is coming soon!):