Democratic Presidential Aspirant John Edwards sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on the 700 MHz auction. Although the letter does not mention PISC by name, the letter urges adoption of three key PISC proposals: make half the spectrum open access, apply network neutrality to all 700 MHz licenses, and adopt anonymous bidding to prevent collusion or retaliation. To quote the relevant passages:
By setting bid and service rules that unleash the potential of smaller new entrants, you can transform information opportunity for people across America — rural and urban, wealthy and not. As much as half of the spectrum should be set aside for wholesalers who can lease access to smaller start-ups, which has the potential to improve service to rural and underserved areas. Additionally, anyone winning rights to this valuable public resource should be required not to discriminate among data and services and to allow any device to be attached to their service. Finally, bidding should be anonymous to avoid collusion and retaliatory bids.
Over the last few days, a substantial number of high profile bloggers and commenters have begun to notice the 700 MHz auction and write about its importance for our wireless digital future. These include Nancy Scola and Matt Stoller at Mydd, and Tim Wu with this piece in Forbes. And, as a result of efforts by folks like Free Press, more than 14,000 individual comments have been filed at the FCC so far.
The Edwards letter further raises the profile of this critical issue and puts other presidential candidates on the spot: Where do you stand on shaping our wireless future? Do you support more of the status quo or do you want to see something different? Do you agree with the folks at Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile that we live in the best of all possible worlds and the government shouldn't try to “influence the market” or “pick winners?” Or do you think it's time to give a real boost to wireless broadband for ALL Americans, free innovation at the edge of the wireless network, and — oh yeah — promote all that democracy and civic engagement stuff?
Hopefully, in the weeks ahead, other candidates from both parties who hope to be the “broadband commander and chief” will clarify where they stand. Who knows, perhaps that might finally be enough to catch the attention of the mainstream media on this issue.