For Immediate Release
July 31, 2007
Background: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this morning approved rules for the auction of spectrum now held by TV broadcasters in what is known as the “700 MHz band.” Public interest groups and Internet companies had urged that the Commission adopt a four-part “open access” program that would allow consumers to run any applications and use any devices they chose; would make spectrum available on to innovators on a wholesale basis; and would require interconnection for new services to existing networks. The FCC decided to apply a very limited “open access” policy to one-third of the spectrum available for auction.
The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“Consumers should be pleased with part of the FCC's decision today. In the new wireless services created as a result of this decision, they won't be forced to abandon cell phones or other devices they have purchased when they change service providers. It will be up to the FCC to make certain these rules are enforced and that consumers don't fall victim to the smallest of print in service contracts. We are disappointed, however, that the FCC will lift those requirements if their reserve price is not met. This condition leaves a broad opening for the industry to avoid these pro-consumer policies.
“However, the Commission's actions are a split decision for consumers because the Commission had the potential to do so much more. While Chairman Martin and some of the other commissioners spoke about the potential to help consumers by creating more competition for high-speed Internet services, at the end of the day they did nothing about it. If this auction ends up with incumbent carriers like Verizon and AT&T buying most, if not all, of the spectrum, and simply extending their existing services, consumers will have gained very little.
“A full 'open access' policy would have created the opportunity for new services and innovations, benefiting consumers, entrepreneurs, and the economy. The Commission's failure to take this bolder step is a missed opportunity that will have repercussions for years to come.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.