September 13th, 2007 | Published in Google Public Policy
As loyal readers of this blog know, earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission took some significant steps to giving consumers more choices when it comes to high-speed wireless Internet access. The FCC set rules for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction which said that consumers would have the right to download any software they want, and that consumers could use their handsets with whatever wireless network they want.
This was a big step for consumer choice and competition. "FCC airwave auction rules to give consumers more choice," said USA Today. "Consumers will be able to use any cellphone and software they want," wrote the Washington Post.
Apparently, one of the nation's major existing wireless carriers doesn't think consumers deserve more choices.
Earlier this week, Verizon Wireless filed a lawsuit against the FCC's rules that would require the eventual winner of the spectrum offer open devices and applications. They called the rules “arbitrary and capricious, unsupported by substantial evidence and otherwise contrary to law.”
The nation's spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC's auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers -- for the first time -- to use their handsets with any network they desire, and download and use the lawful software applications of their choice.
It's regrettable that Verizon has decided to use the court system to try to prevent consumers from having any choice of innovative services. Once again, it is American consumers who lose from these tactics.