Google goes to bat for application- and device-neutral spectrum with FCC

May 7, 2008

Reporting for Ars Technica, Matthew Lasar describes how Google is still fighting many months after the 700mhz spectrum auction. Basically, it looks like Verizon is trying to screw Google out the hard-fought provisions for platform and device neutral spectrum. Fortunately for consumers, innovators, and other companies, Google has the financial and legal muscle to push back.

The lede quote is delightful and direct:

“The rule requires openness for ‘Any Applications, Any Devices’—not ‘Any Applications, Except on Verizon Devices,’ as Verizon would interpret it,” a small squad of Google attorneys told the FCC on Friday. “The Commission must ensure that Verizon understands that this license obligation means what it says: Any Apps, Any Devices.”

Love those Google lawyers – especially William Patry.

Here’s an especially informative moment re: Verizon’s tactics:

Since [last October], the wireless giant has contented itself with making comments that suggest that the company will obey the open platform rule—except when it won’t. Around the time that Verizon withdrew the lawsuit, Thomas Tauke, the telco’s Vice President for Public Policy, spoke at a Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. There he unveiled what he called the “two-door concept” regarding the auction: “Door No. 1, in the rules as written, you can bring your own device and it’s open and you can get on the network,” Tauke explained. “Door No. 2 is for the customer who wants the kind of contract they have with Verizon today, where we provide the device and we guarantee the service quality and so on.”

Two Doors?! Who do these folks think they’re fooling? This is an obvious recipe for tiered service, throttled traffic, preferential packet treatment, and all the other tricks in the big telco’s baskets.

As the article goes on to point out, Google’s actions at the FCC indicate that it is indeed quite serious about its Android platform.

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