Yesterday, Verizon emailed us their statement about the 700 MHz wireless auctions, and the idea of open networks and the whole auction process as proposed by Google, Frontline and other technology companies. Verizon calls them The Google Block. Essentially, they want Interent-styled rules, something Verizon doesn’t view too favorably.
Steve Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless in a testimony urged the Congress “to resist calls for so-called “open access” regulation, and to ensure a fair an open auction of the 700 MHz spectrum.” Given the amount of money Verizon gives as political contributions that shouldn’t be hard. (PDF)
Open and fair auctions, in which any company can participate on equal footing, historically have provided the best value for Americans. Since the first spectrum auction was conducted, billions of dollars have been added to the U.S. Treasury enabling programs that benefit all Americans.
Verizon essentially called the Google Block (with their very own special interests) a bunch of whining babies, and “Auction winners should be determined by market forces and by supply and demand.” In other words, let us bid, buy and bottle this section of the spectrum. What’s a few billion dollars for ensuring control over broadband access, and making those FiOS investments pay-off!
The sad bit is that, in this war of words, consumer interests are being put last. Here is a little rider to their suggestion: how about we put some penalties in the auction process.
The bidders have to submit a complete financial plan, how much they are going to charge and specific dates when the network is going to be launched. Failing to do so, there is a penalty of $5 million a day for service delays or non-use of spectrum. At $1.5 billion a year, no incumbent can afford to buy-and-forget about this spectrum.
That’s not good enough, how about simply leasing the spectrum, as someone suggested in our comments section. It is a better investment for the government over the long term, and basically keeps all players – incumbents or the Google block honest. It has worked in places that are as politically compromised as Washington DC.