Tech and Public Interest Groups Combine To Ask FCC for Open Access Auction
Tech and Public Interest Groups Combine To Ask FCC for Open Access Auction
Tech and Public Interest Groups Combine To Ask FCC for Open Access Auction

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    For Immediate Release

    This release is being sent on behalf of the signers of the letter we mentioned.


    In a strong showing of unity, a group of high-tech companies and public-interest organizations today sent a joint letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging that the rules for the upcoming auction of spectrum include provisions that would require a comprehensive “open access” policy to create new competition.

    A draft order circulated by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin does not contain the four elements of “open access” needed to promote competition and to foster the emergence of a wireless competitor to the high-speed Internet offerings of the telephone and cable companies.

    The organizations told the Commission that the elements of a comprehensive open access policy are: (1) Open devices. Consumers must be able to use any device that does not harm the network to attach to the network. (2) Open applications. Consumers should be able to use any software programs. Now, users are generally blocked from using all but the options provided by carriers. Consumers moving a 700 MHz iPhone from AT&T to Verizon should be able to still use iTunes without also needing to subscribe to V-Cast.
    (3) Open Services. Wholesale customers of spectrum must also have access to wireless service elements and interfaces on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis. Examples include geo-location information (e.g., via A-GPS) and quality of service (QoS) tiers. (4) Open Networks. Wholesale capacity should be available to service providers on a non-discriminatory basis. Without that requirement, no new entrant will find financing to compete against incumbents.

    The letter noted that Martin has said that the auction will be the “biggest opportunity” to create new competition, added: “Only an 'open access' that incorporates all of these 'four opens' can meet the challenge you set for yourself and the other Commissioners less than three months ago. We emphasize that without each of these equally important elements, the upcoming auction will fail to foster a market environment open to new investment by new entrants.”

    The two dozen signers of letter ranged from large companies, such as Google, Skype and IAC, to small companies such as Txtbl and Skydeck, as well as public interest groups such as Public Knowledge, Media Access Project and Free Press.

    A copy of the letter is here: