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This is going to be a fun year: Verizon shoots back on auction rules

So what does the company with the largest national cellular network do the day after this rumor starts appearing? They fire back and call the whole ordeal unfair. You know, because they don’t have enough power already. They need it all, and if it’s at the price of consumer freedom, well, consumer freedom be damned. Of course, we’re being a bit harsh on Verizon Wireless right now. But we’re a bit peeved that they simply can’t accept rules that would allow for new innovation and greater competition. The underlying problem is that they don’t see it that way.

Here’s the thing, though: we can also see where Verizon is coming from. They feel that the 700 MHz spectrum can further enhance their network, thereby giving consumers a better service. We feel the same way. Sometimes you have to play to your strengths.

The FCC, with Congressional oversight, should not be in the position of pre-determining or telegraphing auction winners. Reports of special rules for any company or segment of the high-tech industry that would tip the balance in their favor and circumvent a true auction are problematic. The so-called “Google Block” with rules tailored to one company’s goal leads in that direction. If these rules are unavoidable, the amount of spectrum allocated to this open access experiment should be minimal, in order to ensure that the true value of this national resource is not diminished.

We were on board until the last sentence. Yes, Verizon would provide great value using that spectrum. But who’s to say that open-access rules would be less valuable? When anyone is allowed to play with it, progress can be made.

So that’s what this boils down to: high-quality service, or progress and innovation.

“Consumer choice would be the casualty of policies that mandate that all companies do the same thing the same way.”

We’re not sure we’re reading this correctly. Is he really saying that uniformity should prevail over consumer choice? That’s rather absurd, if you ask us.

And then Verizon goes on to say that open-access means that “[w]ithout rigorous network testing and monitoring, there’s no guarantee that federal mandates including CALEA and E911 will be met, a significant concern in an era of heightened national security concerns.” So now they’re playing to our fears.

We get Verizon’s point; they think they can make best use of the spectrum because they already have the resources in place. But you know what? We’d much rather see entrepreneurs and tech companies get in on this spectrum and show the American pubic what they’re missing with these enormous service providers. Actually, we think that’s a major reason Verizon is so opposed to the open access idea.

What’s your take on the spectrum auction? This could be one of the better debates in the wireless industry over the next year.

[CNN Money]