Google’s brief foray into telecom policy is shaking things up perhaps more than even Eric Schmidt expected. WSJ’s Amol Sharma reports that Verizon is softening its stance on a forthcoming FCC wireless spectrum auction.
Google and others, including a coalition led by New York wireless bigwig Amol Sarva, have pushed for the FCC to open up blocks of the spectrum being auctioned off so it is accessible by any device or application. This is different from today’s mobile world, in which devices are usually sold directly by a service provider and locked to that carrier’s network.
Google has also asked the FCC to require the winning bidder to offer wholesale access to the new wireless network and allow third parties to interconnect with it. If the FCC follows these suggestions, the search giant has pledged to bid more than $4.6 billion on spectrum. But Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless has staunchly opposed such rules, calling them a “huge disservice to the nation” and “corporate welfare for Google.”
Now, Verizon, the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, is changing its tune–in part, the Journal suggests, because the FCC has already embraced some of Google’s proposals. The Journal reports that chief Lowell McAdam would agree to rules about opening the network up to devices and apps, as long as Verizon is not held responsible for filtering out porn or making sure third-party gadgets work properly on the network.
This is a big (and welcome) shift for Verizon, but it won’t likely satisfy Google. Nor is it clear if the FCC will ultimately include anything about wholesale access or network interconnections in the auction rules anyway.