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The Verizon (VZ) vs. Google (GOOG) squabble over the 700 MHz auction is getting nastier and nastier. A few weeks ago, Verizon went to the courts, seeking to block the Federal Communications Commission from adding open-access provisions to the auction of airwaves that are considered beachfront property when it comes to wireless broadband.
RCR Wireless reports that Verizon might have been doing some behind-the-scenes lobbying in order to get the provisions watered down. In a blog post, Google is taking issue with Verizon’s contention, and points out that they have been in touch with the FCC.
Verizon appears to be arguing that two of the key provisions in the auction rules designed to spur competition — the requirements for open devices and open applications — should not apply to a licensee’s own devices that use this block of 700 MHz spectrum. Their theory is that so long as “unlocked” devices (those that can be configured to work with any network) are theoretically available to consumers through other means, the winning bidder in the auction shouldn’t be required to make its devices open as well. From our perspective, this view ignores the realities of the U.S. wireless market, where some 95 percent of handsets are sold in retail stores run by the large carriers.
We should expect a volley from Verizon any moment now.