FCC Straddles Open Access Issue

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laid down the rules for 700MHz wireless broadband auctions this afternoon, approving many of the "open access" stipulations that chairman Kevin Martin had wanted but rejecting one of the conditions that search giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) had asked for if it was to participate.

Google said on July 20 that it had set aside $4.6 billion for a portion of the wireless spectrum if the FCC would agree to four conditions, which included the ability to use any suitable device on the network, access to any applications, and enabling resellers to acquire wireless services from a 700MHz licensee on a wholesale basis. (See Google Pledges $4.6B for Spectrum.)

The FCC voted to accept open access for devices and applications, which had already been floated by chairman Martin himself, but rejected the wholesale condition. (See FCC Wants Open Broadband.)

Google has just published a statement on its blog about the vote, applauding the FCC for its moves towards greater "openess." It is, however, still not clear whether this means the search giant will actually bid in the auction. A spokesman for the company did not explictly respond to that question in an email reply to Unstrung about this afternoon's vote.

The 700MHz auctions have to take place before the end of January, 2008. They are expected to raise billions for U.S. Treasury coffers.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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