Had you told me a year ago that Verizon would win the big 700 MHz spectrum auction, and therefore cement the wireless duopoly it has with AT&T I would have been very gloomy.
But this was before the iPhone.
While all of us were looking anxiously to Google, hoping it would swoop in and outbid a company which had every incentive to win (while it had none), we were missing the bigger story.
The iPhone changed the game.
The iPhone changed the wireless game because iPhone users move tons more data than users of any other wireless device. How much more? Something like 500 times more.
That demand for wireless data, combined with Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T, forced Verizon to cede control of its network to device makers, and accede to requests that the new spectrum be defined as "open."
With devices defining the wireless game Verizon and AT&T have lost the monopoly power they once had. The new rules mean they won't get it back.
Now there remain big problems. We'll have to pay Verizon whatever it wants for service. We'll have to pay, through our bills, for the spectrum our government "sold," and Verizon "bought," which was really ours to begin with.
But thanks to this most proprietary of companies, all is not lost. Linux phones of all types will be welcome -- anything, Verizon thinks, that can break AT&T (and Apple's) market grip.
How ironic is that?