Verizon's risky lawsuit against open access

If the Democratic Party is added to the ranks of Google, Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies who are demanding the spectrum be opened, it's hard to see the phone cartel winning.

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Verizon's lawsuit against the FCC  open access auction rules is an enormous risk. (This SavetheInternet video dates from 2006.)

Whether it wins or not, Verizon is in effect delaying the auction. A decision in its favor is likely to be appealed, and Google or others could launch a counter-suit, citing different grounds.

That's a good thing for open access. Open access is popular. It's one of the few points concerning Internet rules people do understand.

Despite what was essentially a push poll last March by MyWireless, consumers want more wireless choices. Their anger over the iPhone is directed mainly at AT&T, not at Apple.

These views are reflected in the submission of a Wireless Consumer Protection Act last week by two Democratic Senators. One of its provisions is to call for an FCC investigation of the current rules tieing devices to networks.

Note too that this bill was filed by two Democrats. That party has the wind at its back now, for reasons unrelated to wireless auctions. If the Democratic Party is added to the ranks of Google, Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies who are demanding the spectrum be opened, it's hard to see the phone cartel winning.

The phone cartel's dominance of Washington is based on policy remaining an elite endeavor, decided in back rooms by small numbers of people who can be swayed by lobbying or political contributions. If this becomes a partisan issue, with the phone giants facing the combined weight of the technology industry and an angry public, watch out.

Personally I'd like to see the phone companies broken up entirely, smashed in ways that prevent them from ever being reformed. A guarantee of competition is the best hope the American Internet has.

So this is a lawsuit which makes me smile. The phone cartel is overplaying its hand.

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