It was put up or shut up time. Google put up.
In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that his company would bid $4.6 billion for spectrum if, and it's a big IF, the Commission put true open access rules in place.
These are the same rules that a group of companies and public-interest organizations – a group that included Google – suggested to the FCC would be the right way to implement open access. It's not simply a matter of consumers being able to use any device on a network as Martin has said. Instead, it's a matter of:
â€¢ Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
â€¢ Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
â€¢ Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
â€¢ Open networks: Third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.
Now we'll see who is serious about creating competition. If Martin is serious and wants his reserve price of $4.6 billion met, he will impose the full open access spectrum. AT&T and Verizon will have to come up with some new reasons to object to open access. Their old ones, about devaluing spectrum and daring Google to bid, just went out the window.