So now that Verizon has officially won the precious C-block 700MHz spectrum, the question is, what happens now? Will they deliver a reasonably open network with this incredible new spectrum? At Public Knowledge, naturally, they're dubious. Susan Crawford, a visiting law prof at the U. of Mich., says there are basically two models of online access: the cellphone model (walled garden, gatekeeper) and the Internet model (neutral network, dominated by powerful players). Verizon being who it is:
Even though the incumbents (Verizon and AT&T) could have accepted this limitation, won the auction, and then priced wholesale access at a high level (thus discouraging anyone from using it), avoiding the precedent of wholesale access – and retaining the cellphone model of access – was their central goal. And they achieved that.
Hmmm, seems a little conspiratorial to me. Eric Schmidt is optimistic:
"The senior leadership of Verizon actually visited Google to talk to us about this and make sure they got it right," Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a recent interview with Portfolio Magazine. "I think it's great. I wish everybody else would open up their networks."
The open network that Verizon announced in November comes with specs and a verification scheme, which lead some to say that the company will continue to assert control over what devices will be allowed. Even if it doesn't control things as tightly as feared, its ability to subsidize partner devices will effectively mean there's little change, Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Program at the New America Foundation said.
Personally, I want to believe that this auction will result in widespread, inexpensive wireless access everywhere. So I will until we see otherwise.