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FCC boss quashes Skype open access plea

Martin thinks Verizon tells the truth

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CTIA Wireless When Verizon says that its entire wireless network will soon be open to any device and any application, the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission believes the mega-telco is telling truth.

In a keynote this morning at the annual CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas, FCC chair Kevin Martin said he intends to reject a year-old petition from the VoIP mavens at Skype that seeks to force open access down Verizon's throat and the throats of all other US wireless carriers.

Martin fully supports open access, but he's confident that Verizon and the gang will open their networks without additional government invention.

Last summer, the FCC attached an open access requirement to a prime portion of the US wireless spectrum, and when this "700-MHz C Block" was auctioned off earlier this year, Verizon was the winning bidder.

In theory, Verizon has no choice but open the C Block to any device and any application. And well before the auction, the mega-telco said it would open its entire network by the end of the calendar year.

Kevin Martin is confident that Verizon will make good on this promise. And he believes that other carriers will follow suit.

"What we've observed since the adoption of our 700-MHz rules is quite outstanding," he told an army of mobile industry insiders at CTIA. "The open access requirement has led the leading carriers to recognize the benefits of a more open platform.

"In less than a year, many of you have evolved from vocal opponents ot vocal proponents, embracing the open platform concept for your entire network."

In addition to Verizon's commitment, he cited the open access hugs of T-Mobile and Sprint - which recently joined the Google-led Open Handset Alliance - and AT&T - which claims that its network has always been open.

We think AT&T is talking nonsense. Even if you discount the Jesus Phone. But Martin is quite sure that the entire industry has shown that it doesn't need to be regulated - at least when it comes to open access.

"In light of the industry's embrace of this more open approach, I think it's premature for the commission to adopt any other requirements across the industry," Martin said. "Today, I'm going to circulate to my fellow commissioners an order dismissing the petition (pdf) by Skype that would apply Carterfone requirements to the existing wireless networks."

The FCC's 1968 Carterfone decision forced Ma Bell to open her telephone network to third-party devices - provided they didn't harm the network.

When Martin delivered his message, the army of industry insiders cheered. Which leads us to believe that true openness is still a ways away. ®

Bootnote

For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.

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