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Verizon bags slow-tracked wireless battle

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Verizon has abandoned its legal attack on new rules that would allow US consumers to attach any device and any application to a prime portion of the country's wireless spectrum.

Less than two months ago, the uber-telco filed a "petition for review" with the US Court of Appeals, urging it to overhaul Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules for the so-called 700-MHz band, a swathe of spectrum due to be auctioned off in mid-January. But now that the court is unlikely to take action before the auction arrives, Verizon has thrown in the towel.

You see, the FCC has attached an "open access requirement" to a chunk of the band, which would force to winning bidder to treat it like the anything-goes wired internet, and Verizon doesn't like that. It likes the status quo, where it decides which apps and devices run on its wireless network.

More than two weeks after filing its petition, the company asked the court to fast track the thing, but the court said "eh-eh." Now the petition is unlikely to be heard before January, so Verizon has filed a motion for "voluntary dismissal".

This is sure to please Google and mega-startup Frontline Wireless, two of the leading voices calling for open access to the band. According to Verizon's motion, both were notified of the company's decision to have its petition dismissed, and though Frontline did not respond, Google agreed to cover its own court costs. With open access in place, the two anti-Verizons are more likely to join the bidding come January.

But that doesn't mean they will. Both had also urged the FCC to attach a "wholesale requirement" to the band, which would require the winning bidder to share the spectrum with other ISPs, but in this case, the commission failed to comply. The latest word from Google is that it's "carefully analyzing" a bid for the spectrum.

Will Verizon still bid? You can bet they will, but when we asked the company for comment, all it would do was throw us a copy of its latest court documents. ®

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