It appears that the FCC is going to adopt open-access rules backed by Google and other tech companies in its upcoming spectrum auctions. This is not good news for incumbent wireless carriers. What Google (GOOG) wants is for the resulting 4G networks built on top of the auctioned spectrum to be more like the Internet, so that you can plug in any device or run any application on it no matter who happens to be billing you for your wireless broadband access. Google's principles going into this are:
* Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
* Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
* 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
* Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.
It might not get everything it asked for, but even one or two concessions would make it much more likely that Google will decide itself to bid for some of the spectrum. If such rules were in effect today, you would be able to buy an iPhone and not be locked into AT&T's network.
It's nice to see Internet rules finally winning the day in Washington.