media logos

AT&T backs open access requirement

Last week, we noted that AT&T blasted Google over their proposed open access rules for the impending spectrum auction. That totally made sense: AT&T has been furiously upgrading their wireless networks. They’re looking to control your communications, so obtaining parts or all of the 700 MHz spectrum would be very favorable, to state the obvious. However, now they’re taking a friendlier, likely PR-driven stance on the open access requirements.

“We think Chairman [Kevin] Martin’s [of the FCC] plan is a creative compromise that balances the interests of companies and consumers,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of public policy.

Now, Mr. Cicconi is responding only to the open access provision. That is, the ability of a user to use any handset with any software installed. This does not respond to Google’s proposed requirement of the auction winner providing new licenses at a wholesale rate.

The following paragraph was the one that made us think the most:

Cicconi described Martin’s plan as a “put-up or shut-up” to Google and other companies that endorse a wholesale approach. “It’s a big block (of spectrum) and it would allow them to offer a national service if they are serious about doing that,” he added.

As much as we loathe AT&T, he has a point here. You can’t try to force a proposal that clearly favors your position and then walk in to bid on it. Other companies have other interests, and they have to be considered, too. Of course, we like Google’s proposal better, but in the end it comes down to compromise.

If Google wants the wholesale requirement, then they have to go out and win the auction. Then they can do what they please. But they can’t say “we want this” and then have other companies bid on a spectrum that is tailored to their needs.

Still, we like this compromise. Now it’s up to Google to do something about it.

[USA Today]