700MHz Shootout: AT&T vs. Google

Things are still heating up in the 700MHZ wars. You probably had a hard time getting through the weekend wondering what AT&T would say about Schmidt’s letter.

From Techcrunch:

“CEO Eric Schmidt sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stating that they would commit to bid at least $4.6 billion in the auctions if four key platform rules are adopted. These rules will define what types of services the winner could offer, and would require third party access to the bandwidth:

  1. Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  2. Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
  3. Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
  4. Open networks: Third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

From GigaOM:

“Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs in a written statement emailed to us said:

Not satisfied with a compromise proposal from Chairman Martin that meets most of its conditions, Google has now delivered an all or nothing ultimatum to the U.S. Government, insisting that every single one of their conditions “must” be met or they will not participate in the spectrum auction. Google is demanding the Government stack the deck in its favor, limit competing bids, and effectively force wireless carriers to alter their business models to Google’s liking. We would repeat that Google should put up or shut up— they can bid and enter the wireless market with any business model they prefer, then let consumers decide which model they like best.”

Industry opinions:

TechCrunch: “The FCC has competing goals of maximizing revenue from the auction (suggesting less regulation) and protecting the public (suggesting more rules to force competition). Having open access requirements like those suggested by Google will spur competition and grow an economy around this spectrum. It will also put commercial pressure on mobile operators and broadband companies to reduce the restrictions they have on current broadband and mobile services.

GigaOM: “While the sheer historical inertia of the telcos’ lobbying influence may win them the first round of the 700 MHz fight, Google is quickly catching on to the lobbying game, even holding mashup-type camp sessions to show legislators how to join the Internet age. With his letter to the FCC, Schmidt has moved the 700 MHz argument past the “regulation will limit the incentive to invest in new networks” bromide and is instead asking out loud whether the U.S. wants networks that are old and busted, or the new hotness.”

Terry Heaton: “As the leader in the open internet world, Google stands to benefit in a purely open wireless world, but so will we all. Big or small, a level field of play will mean an explosion of creativity and applications that we can’t even imagine today. Just look at what has taken place in the 802.11 spectrum (Wi-Fi) since the FCC made that truly open. From your cordless phone to your home wireless network to hotspots in various public and private locations, all are there using “free” spectrum. “

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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