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Spectrum fight!

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So it appears Google is really serious about this 700 MHz spectrum bid. Don’t get us wrong…we always thought Google was in this thing. But before, it seemed more of a position of aloofness. They talked about what they want, saying “yeah, maybe we’ll bid; it’s a possibility.” Now that Verizon has challenged the FCC rules, though, Google is a bit ticked. They’re telling it how it is: Verizon wants to squash competition and basically own the airwaves.

“As far as we can tell, Verizon appears to be arguing that two of the key provisions in the auction rules designed to spur competition — the requirements for open devices and open applications — should not apply to a licensee’s own devices that use this block of 700 MHz spectrum,” Richard Whitt, Washington media and telecom counsel for Google, said in his public policy blog.

We do understand Verizon’s position. They want to control what information and software goes on the network, because they don’t trust people. Yet, third party apps are allowed on BlackBerry, and there aren’t any widespread problems there (though there have been a number of outages in the past month, but those have been spread out and short-lived). Verizon wants to save you the agony of someone loading a virus onto their phone, and then on the network.

However, just because we understand doesn’t mean it’s right. The locked devices allow Verizon a position of power, particularly in pricing. They woo you with a lower phone price, so long as you sign your life away to them. Honestly, we’re pretty sure at this point that the wireless companies could afford the lower phone prices even for prepaid customers. They’re just throwing up smoke and mirrors to make you believe their story.

We’re glad Google is taking up this fight. And we really want to see Google partner with some other larger companies so that they can outbid Verizon and AT&T for this crucial spectrum. We need competition in the wireless industry, and we need it badly. So bring it.

[Information Week]