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There’s a lot of excitement coming from a decision by the Federal Communications Commission chairman to propose rules that will set aside wireless spectrum for creation of an “open network” free from the chokehold of large telecom carriers.
The spectrum would be auctioned off early next year. Chairman Kevin Martin’s proposal will circulated as early as Tuesday.
This could provide an opening for other technology companies, notably Google, to make a major strike at the monopoly currently held by the carriers. See this story for the number of steps Google has already made to roll out its own network. Outwardly, Google has said it doesn’t want to become a full-fledged network, saying it isn’t part of its core activities. More on Google, and the challenges that remain to its bid, in a sec.
In covering the start-up world over the past several years, we’ve noted that one of the biggest bottlenecks to innovation has been the carriers’ control over the wireless industry. Start-up after start-up has complained about the large fees carriers charge any company hoping to offer services on their networks. The latest visible manifestation of the carriers’ power has been AT&T’s control of the iPhone.
The FCC move was anticipated, and we’ve been reporting the efforts of companies like Frontline Wireless to push it along. Technology entrepreneurs and investors have also written columns for VentureBeat in support of the opening. We also ran a column by investor Paul Grim today calling for T-Mobile, a network to boldly take action to open up its network as a way of challenging the bigger networks.
Google’s blog on the matter is here. Notably, Google has concluded that the carriers and cable companies will win the auction, because they will have so much to lose from it that they’ll pour huge resources to make sure others can’t compete. Here’s a Google lobby letter. And Reed Hundt, head of Frontline Wireless, has reportedly even called Martin’s proposal a “dreadful plan,” before it is even released, apparently believing there will be so many loopholes that carriers will dominate despite the “open” ruling (details at GigaOm).
The WSJ has more here.