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Google Nervous About Verizon's Open Access

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the crossed-my-fingers dept.

Wireless Networking 116

Ian Lamont writes "Google is so worried about Verizon Wireless's commitment to open access using the 700Mhz spectrum that it has asked the FCC to get a pledge from Verizon that the carrier will honor the FCC's open-access conditions before the FCC sells it the band. Verizon won the auction for the nationwide C block of the 700MHz spectrum, but Google points to Verizon's alleged attempts to abandon the conditions, including a filing with the FCC which said the commission 'could not force the C block winner to allow all applications on the network.' Could this be another expanding front in the Net Neutrality battle, or is it time for the carriers to accept the fact that Net Neutrality is essentially a done deal, and carriers need to prepare for the next battle — developing software and services to run on open networks?" The IP Democracy blog has Google's filing (PDF) and the following comment from Verizon: "Google's filing has no legal standing."

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116 comments

Nervous? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307780)

No, I think they just want Verizon to play by the rules.

But it's Verizon... (4, Interesting)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310132)

You know, the really reputable company, they would never [pencomputing.com] cripple [engadget.com] their products [digg.com] . I wonder what all the conflict is about this time. Surely theyd never back out of opening the spectrum.

It may not have any legal standing... (4, Insightful)

BoogeyOfTheMan (1256002) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307818)

But if someone at the FCC that isnt retarded (I know its a long shot) decides that that may be a good idea, then they may decide to implement that stipulation.

Round 1..... (1)

RatPh!nk (216977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307848)

Fight!

In all honesty, I hope this turns into a bloody fight, I am not sure if Verizon wants to go at Google like this.

Re:Round 1..... (3, Insightful)

shadylookin (1209874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307918)

I think round 1 was when google set the stipulations and then decided not to put a reasonable bid on the auction. Even though I would like for the spectrum to be neutral I definitely think it was a sucker punch on google's part

Re:Round 1..... (5, Insightful)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308224)

I don't think it was a sucker punch really. They bumped the bid up there because that's what they wanted, but if they ended up getting "stuck" with it, they may have been a little upset, but I can guarantee you they would've come up with something to take advantage of it.

Re:Round 1..... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23309028)

Google's highest bid was less than 100M away from the winning bid, an amount that represented a mere 2.1% increase.

What makes 4.6B unreasonable and 4.7B reasonable? No one forced Verizon to bid 4.7B.

Re:Round 1..... (2, Informative)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311838)

Exactly. Also - this is likely to be exactly what Google will argue gives them legal standing. From their comments after the auction [blogspot.com] :

You may remember that as the FCC was setting rules for the auction last summer, we urged the Commission to adopt four openness conditions. Further, we vowed to bid at least $4.6 billion in the auction if the Commission adopted all four rules. Even though the FCC ultimately agreed to only two of the conditions, which nullified our original pledge, we still believed it was important to demonstrate through action our commitment to a more open wireless world.

We're glad that we did... In turn, [raising the bid] helped increase the revenues raised for the U.S. Treasury, while making sure that the openness conditions would be applied to the ultimate licensee.


(emphasis mine)

Re:Round 1..... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309298)

You don't think four and a half billion dollars is a "reasonable" bid? What planet are you from?

Re:Round 1..... (3, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310572)

Didn't the (semi) open spectrum cost billions less than the closed spectrum?

Taking that discount and not following through is what sounds like a sucker punch to me.

Re:Round 1..... (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311254)

100% agreed. Google played chicken with the auction and thought they could get someone else to pay for the licenses they themselves would end up using.

I know Google's wealth is just on paper but they are supposed to be smart enough to know that, and not play with fire if they don't want to get burned.

Tough Shit Google.

Re:Round 1..... (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311628)

Tough Shit Google.

'Tough Shit' Google? Try 'Tough Shit American Consumer' because that's who really gets burned if the carriers can keep their walled garden model.

I don't really give two shits about Google but I'd like to be able to buy my own (non carrier branded) phone and do whatever I want with it. You can't do this in CDMA land. Hell, even the GSM carriers (AT&T and T-Mobile) less informed employees will try to tell you that you can't use a non-branded phone.

I even had a T-Mobile employee try to tell me that I couldn't buy a prepaid phone to use with my postpaid service even though it was the exact same model phone as the one they were offering for postpaid customers (the prepaid was $30, postpaid was $100 without a contract). Needless to say I ignored them and bought the phone I wanted and it works just fine.

If they get away with flaunting these requirements then we all lose. Hell, even the carriers will lose out in the end, because sooner or later there will be a backlash and they'll find themselves actually being regulated by the states and/or Feds. Then they'll wish they had done it all voluntarily when they had the chance.

Re:Round 1..... (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313426)

don't really give two shits about Google but I'd like to be able to buy my own (non carrier branded) phone and do whatever I want with it.


If I may be so bold: can you clue me in here for a second?

Can't I just buy a phone from kisosk X, with no plan, buy a SIM card+plan from kiosk Y, and be on my way? What am I missing here?

Granted, that's not how *anyone* advertises their services, but all the parts are there AFAIK.

Re:Round 1..... (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313886)

Except verizon - No sim card

Re:Round 1..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313894)

Can't I just buy a phone from kisosk X, with no plan, buy a SIM card+plan from kiosk Y, and be on my way?

You might be able to do that with AT&T or T-Mobile, though you'll likely find it easier to get the "free" phone they give away (and later sell it) then to just purchase a SIM card outright.

You can't do that with Verizon or Sprint. There is no such thing as an unbranded CDMA phone -- you HAVE to buy them through the carrier. So if you happen to live in an area where AT&T and T-Mobile have shitty coverage (or you just don't want to do business with them) then you are SOL.

Re:Round 1..... (5, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308068)

A cat fight for the C block? Didn't I see this movie on Cinemax not too long ago?

Re:Round 1..... (0, Redundant)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308322)

You mean the late night block, don't you? Because uh... I have no idea what comes on during that block.

Re:Round 1..... (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308456)

I remember watching "The Naked Detective" when I was a middle schooler. It was the most absurd softcore porn I'd ever seen.

Re:Round 1..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311666)

I remember watching "The Naked Detective" when I was a middle schooler. It was the most absurd softcore porn I'd ever seen.

For me it was 'Emmanuelle in Space' ;)

What horny male teenager didn't love Skinamax^WCinemax for the once a year free preview when the local cable company would unscramble them for everybody ;)

I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307858)

It would be wonderful if Net Neutrality is a "done deal". I am not quite so confident that it is over yet, but I can always hope.

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308278)

I for one hope that net neutrality isn't a done deal. I think that today, we have it backwards. Airwaves are almost completely closed, but landlines are forced open. Airwaves should be considered more or less public property (especially the stuff that was given out before the auctions started), but there's plenty of room in the ground for folks to lay down more fiber.

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308832)

the electromagnetic spectrum was regulated and closed for good reason, because if not it basically becomes a case of 'my penis is bigger than yours' (I have a more powerful transmitter than you do) taking over everyones signal on a given freq.

I do agree perhaps a no holds barred except signal can't go over a certain strength version of citizen band could be interesting to an extent though, with a small portion of the spectrum.

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308942)

airwaves affect LARGE portions of populations. that's why communication via them it needs to be more regulated.

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309586)

it's rather difficult to regulate spectrum allocation more than it has been already, and regulating content going over the waves turns it into a 'think of the children' type snooping. so what would you like more regulated?

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (1)

portentum (1121677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309688)

I doubt their meaning was that they need to be regulated more than they are, I took what they said to simply mean "more regulated than landlines." The GP said they felt otherwise.

Re:I sure HOPE it's a done deal... (1)

intangible (252848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313762)

Instead of giving away huge chunks of the airwaves to the highest bidder, just enforce non-interfering communication methods like requiring unique codes for transmissions so your transceivers only care about others with the same codes.

No need for a pledge (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307864)

Just get the FCC to state that if that block of spectrum is not open, Verizon loses the license, no money back.

Re:No need for a pledge (2, Insightful)

Bruha (412869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308424)

I do not think It will come to that. Mr Martin has enough people looking at him on both sides of the aisle about his clear preference towards telco that he may actually find it in his best interests to enforce this on Verizon Wireless.

I think Verizon is scared that because they keep putting out crap for phones that their customers will take their money elsewhere and purchase them from Apple or whomever else has the hot item. Verizon has consistently ignored the younger segments of the market and now they're reaping the benefits of being ignorant.

In todays mobile society the mobile phone is probably the utility that people will cling to. Get evicted you can still take your phone with you and it keeps working.

Re:No need for a pledge (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308726)

Why should Verizon care where you get your phone? Charging you the same amount for access and not subsidizing your phone has to be more profitable for them then whatever they make on ringtones and wallpaper. A report cited here [moconews.net] says the total US ringtone market is $500M, carrier cost for subsidizing phones has to be an order of magnitude more than that.

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310994)

$500M?! That is insane. I can't just throw any sound wav on my phone and have it play when someone calls. I have to pay money for that feature. If only telco's could charge me for placing a sound wav in my email program that plays whenever I receive email.

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311674)

FWIW, I was able to use bluetooth to send an mp3 (and mid) to my verizon LG.

YMMV though, I suspect..

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313460)

FWIW, my el-cheapo cellphone has no bluetooth and the USB adapter w/software costs $25 + S&H. That and no kiosk/store in existence carries the adapter.

So one way or another they find a way to make you pay. :(

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

Spokehedz (599285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311322)

"Why should Verizon care where you get your phone?"

Because they want to lock you into a contract with a cheap phone, and then shaft you on the minutes.

They also want to prevent you from not using a pay service they provide (VZ Navigator) for a free service (GPS+Google Maps) on their network. The list goes on and on too...

TXT vs Gmail/Gtalk
GIN Games vs Free Java games
GIN Apps vs Free Java Apps

"Charging you the same amount for access and not subsidizing your phone has to be more profitable for them then whatever they make on ringtones and wallpaper."

It has little or nothing to do with ringtones. Nobody AFAIK buys them. It has everything to do with keeping you locked in to over-paying for minutes for 2 years. It is long been established that in the USA mobile phone carriers practically give you the phones for free (at the time of writing, VZW had 13 phones for under $50) and they lock you into the contract so that they make up the cost of the phones on your minutes--at least by 3x the cost of the phone.

VZW didn't want to let you take your numbers to new carriers. They were against that, as people would stay locked in to a company just so they didn't lose their number. But the gooberment pulled a fast one and actually did something good for the people and not itself or businesses and forced all carriers to allow for number transfers.

Do you honestly think VZW is going to just sit by and let Google--who aces just about anything they put their Brain Tank to a task--build the most awesome phone in the world, and then have to support the network/device from Google?

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311734)

It has little or nothing to do with ringtones. Nobody AFAIK buys them

You don't know many teenagers, do you? ;)

VZW didn't want to let you take your numbers to new carriers. They were against that

Actually, they did stop fighting that when they realized that they would probably benefit the most out of any of the carriers (and when it became apparent that it was going to pass anyway).

They also want to prevent you from not using a pay service they provide (VZ Navigator) for a free service (GPS+Google Maps) on their network. The list goes on and on too...

Totally agree with this. Look at the TOS for their data product sometime. They don't just limit you to 5GB a month -- they also limit what you can do with it. Listening to Pandora is a 'prohibited activity', among others.

Re:No need for a pledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23311834)

"Nobody AFAIK buys them..."

You must not know many people then considering the US market for paid ringtones is around $500 million per year!

Have you never seen all the stupid TV ads for them? You don't think they'd be buying TV time to advertise ringtones that no one ever buys do you?

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311690)

carrier cost for subsidizing phones has to be an order of magnitude more than that.

Do you really think those 'subsidies' actually cost them anything near what they claim? Something tells me that with the volume of phones they purchase they probably get pretty good pricing from Nokia and Motorola.

In any event, I've always found it rather amusing that they can claim the early termination fees are to protect their investment (due to the aforementioned subsidy) when said ETF is the same regardless of whether or not you got a free $120 el-cheapo POS or a $600 Blackberry.

Re:No need for a pledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23310314)

this is /. - i believe the spelling you are looking for is "looses"

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

allometry (840925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311836)

I'm sure Verizon wouldn't let this happen without a huge fight.

Re:No need for a pledge (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313034)

Just get the FCC to state that if that block of spectrum is not open, Verizon loses the license, no money back.

Yup. It's called legislation. It's what democracy is for.

The FCC is past its usefulness (5, Informative)

jnadke (907188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307890)

The FCC doesn't know jack anymore.

Initially they were saying they wouldn't get the expected $4.7 billion in the auction. Instead, it got up to that amount on local regional licenses alone. The C block had two options, a regional option or a carrier could buy rights to the whole nation, whichever was bid higher would be the result.

If the FCC cared about the interests of the consumers, they would have opened up the C-block auction to non-incumbents only. This would have forced carriers to expand to areas they don't already cover, and increase competition.



Cross your fingers for whitespace devices.

Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307926)

Google bid up this spectrum on purpose so that it would have to be sold for a minimum price that came with strings attached, while it had no intention of buying or developing it. It is interesting that they chose to place the burden of developing and maintaining the network infrastructure on someone else while they wait to reap the benefits of universal access.

Consider a simple scenario - there is a nice lot on a lake, and if it sells for above certain amount, the buyer would have to provide right of way across his property. So, someone that has absolutely no intention of buying this property, but wants to get to walk across to the lake anytime (which he could not currently do as the property is not developed) bids it up until the price is right. You like the place and buy it anyway, but now you presumably have to let the other guy visit and hang around on your private beach whenever he likes. Wouldn't you try to either remove or limit such right of way from your property? Before you answer - think, be honest with yourself. I know I would.

So, back to this - Google did not pay for the spectrum and it lost it's rights of complaining. If they are so much for open access - they should have spent their money and provide such access to all. Put up or shut up.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308012)

I probably wouldn't have out bid the property if that bothered me that much. Not... buy it, then complain, and try to weasel out.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308040)

Um, are you aware that the "open" provisions that were stipulated were only the "open devices" and "open applications" provisions, not the "open services" and "open access" that would have really created some competition?

Those provisions hardly give Google a free ride. To look at it another way, Verizon knew the restrictions on the auction, and it bid anyway. If the spectrum wasn't worth that amount of money with the restrictions, they shouldn't have bid for it.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312876)

To look at it another way, Verizon knew the restrictions on the auction, and it bid anyway. If the spectrum wasn't worth that amount of money with the restrictions, they shouldn't have bid for it.

Heh, Google was bidding to remove restrictions, and Verizon was bidding despite restrictions. I know I know - kinda offtopic, but that perspective made me chuckle.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (4, Insightful)

Yhippa (443967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308058)

If Google won they would have had to pay the price for the spectrum. They somehow got the auctioneers to include the rule and everybody decided to play by that, including Verizon. How is that not fair? Bottom line--if Google won, they would have had to pay.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312652)

The bottom line is that no company should have ANY say in the regulation of the airwaves - that's a matter for the FCC.

Google went to the FCC and said "Hey, buddy, if you force these 4 rules on the spectrum, I'll guarantee you at least 4.6 *pinky to mouth* billion dollars."

I'm surprised no one's thought of investigating what went down in whatever office Google went to. I wonder if there was a sack with a big dollar sign on it involved.

2 rules were adopted, Google shilled (an illegal activity) to get the bid up to 4.6 billion dollars. If Google had won, it would have had to pay out, but it would have immediately turned around and sold/licensed the spectrum to Verizon (or whoever else was willing to buy), even if it meant a slight loss.

allow me to enlatin you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308062)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

In most similar processes if they bid, and they "guess" wrong about the value of the item in question, they're on the hook for it. Google didn't guess wrong. How about this, it's a tricky concept, don't like the terms of some agreement? DON'T AGREE TO IT. I have no sympathy for people who make agreements they don't like when everything is clearly spelled out up front.

Your fallacious argument presumes that the spectrum lot as is isn't worth what the market forces, flawed as they are in deals of the magnitude, near what Verizon is on the hook for. Verizon could have walked away. Indeed, Google didn't even have the next to the last bid. Even were your presumptions to prove valid, which is a gigantic IF, then the specturm price was artificially low due the small numbers of players with the available capital and the great barriers for entry into the market creating "cartel" conditions. The addition of another player with available capital and a vested interest is more probably a result of market forces, that acts to the detrement of the ad hoc cartel. Market forces that dictate they GAMBLE with BILLIONS of shareholders dollars.

I'm with the previous poster. Verizon doesn't like it? Re-auction. Sorry shareholders, no refunds. Perhaps you should reevaluate who serves on the highly compensated board of directors. Next time, rejects from the used car lot are perhaps to be avoided. Its fine Verizon doesn't like the terms of their purchase, they're free to eat it and die, or eat it and live up to the terms of their agreement and prosper as they might.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308076)

If you don't want to let the other guy in, don't buy the property. Period. It's not like these provisions were some kind of surprise. They were all made very plain to all involved up front. Verizon made their bid knowing full well exactly what restrictions were entailed. If they then try to get around those restrictions, it means that they made their bid in bad faith. At the very least they should be forced into compliance. Quite possibly they should be forced to forfeit their acquisition in addition to a hefty fine. If they aren't willing to honor the restrictions on this spectrum then they shouldn't have bid on it.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308088)

The problem with this argument is no one is you are comparing it to buying something , but in this case no one is buying anything.

There just paying for a license. spectrum is a finite resource one that government bodies regulate the hell out of because its finite, but when they give some one the rights to broadcast with in a slice of the spectrum it not like there say here you own everything from 700 MHZ to whatever, there just saying you can use this little slice for spectrum for your service because it in the interest of the general public to allow you to offer this service. while at the same time pocketing some cash.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308114)

I would have had them change the terms of the auction before the sale, or bid 1 dollar less than the threshold price.

If I didn't win it, then F it.. I'd still be able to use the beach and I'd have a lot of cash in my pocket.

I guess your story proves that there are too many rich dumbasses with an assload of lawyers on speed dial.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308118)

That's a horrible analogy. I do not see it like you describe it at all. In this case, Verizon would be making money on the services, so it's not just about some other entity using the network for free, unless you're fine with an ISP charging both sides on a single client's connection. Just that they can't pick and choose what devices and apps are allowed to take advantage of the services.

This was a condition of the bidding. Verizon did not have to bid. I would take it as more than a bit of bad faith if Verizon bid with no intention of upholding the conditions of the auction.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (4, Interesting)

Bytal (594494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308208)

How can they have no intention of buying if they bid above the minimum? Is it their fault that Verizon outbid them?

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (4, Insightful)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308300)

Wouldn't you try to either remove or limit such right of way from your property?

I am going to tweak your argument and replace "a nice lot on a lake" with "a strip of land along the ocean". Frankly, this helps the argument because it is conceivable for men to build 3 mile long lakes in the right terrain for their own rich pleasures. Whereas, like the spectrum of bandwidth that Verizon bought, like oceanfront property, is a limited resource.

Now... SHIT... I just spent $4 Billion dollar buying all this land! And I agreed when I bought it to play nice with my neighbors! Oh the horrors.

But wait! I can rent surf boards, jet skis, and other resources that I can develop to my visitors. I can install a boardwalk so that when they come, they can win crappy prizes and overpay for hot dogs. I can build a resort and charge for all sorts of special services that my best customers want. I can do this [theemiratesnetwork.com] and make it so 10x the people can enjoy my property.

Oh sure, Donald Trump can build his own palm tree beaches on my property, but the people will want to visit MINE because I'll offer twice as many amenities. After all, I am the beachfront master and he is just a lowly chump who made some good investments in Midtown Manhattan. His properties in Atlantic City? He has the entire NYC metropolitan area to draw from and they still go to Vegas. What does *he* know about entertaining.

Case in point... being the best is more than just having the most expensive toys. It is about creating the most value for your customers. If Verizon can't profit from the spectrum without the restriction that they KNEW they signed up, they don't deserve to be in business 5 years from now.

And quite frankly, Google *was* ready to slap down $4 Billion and develop the network themselves. Had they won, you could rest assured that Verizon would be like AOL was 5 years ago... a struggling network provider without a clue about where it needs to invest to retain its customers. AOL is gone now. If Verizon gets their way, I will be switching to AT&T promptly and you can wait and see how long it takes before Google is valued at 5x what Verizon is so they can initiate a takeover/merger (they are currently only worth twice as much as Verizon).

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

charlesnw (843045) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312594)

Worth twice as much != having liquid cash to buy a less valued company.

I have a different scenario in mind (4, Interesting)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308328)

there is a nice lot on a lake, and if it sells for above certain amount, the buyer would have to provide right of way across his property.

There's this stuff called "spectrum" and it is not really "owned" by anyone. The government, acting on behalf of the people collectively, sells the rights to proscribed use of that spectrum in the interests of maximizing competition and creating the most benefit to citizens.

So, someone that has absolutely no intention of buying this property, but wants to get to walk across to the lake anytime (which he could not currently do as the property is not developed) bids it up until the price is right.

One of the many interested parties who wants to make use of that spectrum lobbies for certain restrictions to be put into place on the use of the spectrum. These restrictions work to the advantage of that interested party, but many other parties see this as broadly advantageous to competition. So this interested party's enlightened self-interest results in meaningful changes being injected into the bidding process.

You like the place and buy it anyway, but now you presumably have to let the other guy visit and hang around on your private beach whenever he likes. Wouldn't you try to either remove or limit such right of way from your property?

Knowing that these restrictions have been accepted as serving larger policy goals by the auctioning party, you bid for use of that portion of the spectrum. Again, you bid for it knowing that there would be restrictions on its use, because those restrictions had been placed there by the seller of the spectrum.

Because you won a bid for *use* of that portion of the spectrum, you do not own it. You have limited rights to use that portion of the spectrum to do particular things. In trying to renege on the terms under which you engaged in bidding, you are merely trying to assert more rights than you have purchased.

If you didn't want that other party to benefit, you shouldn't have bid, because you already knew they had the potential to benefit under the terms that governed the auction.

Gee (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23313712)

There's this stuff called "spectrum" and it is not really "owned" by anyone. The government, acting on behalf of the people collectively, sells the rights to proscribed use of that spectrum in the interests of maximizing competition and creating the most benefit to citizens.

Gee, that sure sounds like the government sold the companies the spectrum, and now the companies own it. (Litmus test: can the companies that won a bid on a spot sell it to third parties?)

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308360)

If I wasn't comfortable with the conditions, I wouldn't bid.

If no one had outbid Google, they would have had to buy the spectrum at the price that they bid. Whoever outbid them should have factored the conditions into their bid.

For Verizon to have won the bidding and then want to change the conditions is grossly unfair. Perhaps if the conditions were different, other bidders would've gone higher.

Verizon need to accept the conditions under which they purchased the right to use this spectrum.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (4, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308452)

Your analogy is much like property law in Maine. The public is entitled to access to the public parts of beaches - the part between low tide and high tide. And they are entitled to have a right-of-way to get to those beaches without undue burden or unreasonable conditions, like having to walk 3 miles or step only on stones 7 feet apart.

So, in the Wells Beach area, the public tramps down to the beach through properties they couldn't possibly afford, even if the owners were interested in selling.

The owner's complaints? Minimal. Mountains (literally) of trash during the summer months, dumped by the public. People peeing on their lawns, gardens, porch siding rather than walk up to the porta-potties. Let's not consider the behavior of the public on the beach. For many property owners, it's an insult.

I can see Verizon wanting to modify the rules, and make the C-Block into their playground, and I can see the 'public' (really Google looking for a way to preserve their access to income) wanting to keep 'access' to a precious resource. No doubt it will be strewn with trash, from spam and every sort of malware imaginable to MySpace or worse devised just to take advantage of the wireless market. And Google isn't at all altruistic about this.

But those people in Wells Beach who dearly love their oceanfront homes know that the price is putting up with the 'public'. They whine, and go to court or the Town Council from time to time, but in the end they dare not move. It's too beautiful. It's worth it.

Let's hold Verizon to the deal they signed. In the end, I bet they find it's worth it.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (3, Insightful)

drew (2081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308490)

Regardless of whether the other guy ever had any intention of buying the lot or just wanted a free ride, "I" still knew the stipulations that were placed on the property when I made the bid, and "I" still felt the property was worth enough to warrant the price even with the restriction. The time for me to air that complaint would have been before the auction, not after I had beaten out several other bidders that had all agreed to the same terms and had chosen their bid amounts based on those conditions.

Ignore the Google-guy for a moment and imagine that you were one of the other bidders on the property in question. Suppose that you had decided the property would ordinarily be worth a million dollars to you, but you decide that because of this stipulation you are only willing to bid 600k. Now some other person comes along and outbids you at 750k, and then decides he is going to ignore the stipulations anyway. Would you be a little pissed? According to you, you didn't pay for it, so you lost your right to complain.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309062)

Your analogy would be perfect, if this were a nice lot on a lake.  But it's not.  It's the public airwaves being auctioned out here, which belong to all of us.

The "guy" in your analogy would be us, the American people. 

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309156)

Another way you're wrong is that you're not considering that Google, and others, will still have to pay for the access priviledge.  They just get to where whatever shoes they want when crossing your lawn :-)

Feel free to try (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23309160)

I'm going to give you a beer if this auction [ebay.com] sells for over $100. Just like Google, you have no intention of buying it, but you want the beer, so go ahead, bid $100 and wait for someone to outbid you and get a free beer. Maybe after this exercise you'll understand that when you bid up you can actually win the auction and be stuck with the goods. Google had balls.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309846)

I disagree.

Anybody who was overbid by Verizon has a legitimate complaint if Verizon gets a break on the conditions of the auction. Suppose you and I bid on a lease to federal land in an auction and the leases did not include mineral rights. You bid one billion, I bid 1.1. After I won the auction, I and my buddies at the BLM announce that surprise! I'm getting the rights to drill for oil and mine gold on the land. In fact I can sublet those rights for cash money if I like.

You'd feel justifiably pissed. The oil on the land is worth ten billion, and you'd have been willing to bid five. Instead, I get 8.9 billion dollars given to me by my friends in the government.

If we want to put the right to decide which applications run on the spectrum is on the table, it should be bid out separately. Of course this would be unfair to Verizon, and for exactly the same reason that giving Verizon a "gift" of additional rights to Verizon is unfair to the other bidders -- indeed to parties that did not bid at all.

It's unfair in either case because the parties bidding didn't know what the winner was actually going to get.

That is one dumb post (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310094)

while it had no intention of buying or developing it
You think that Google would have bid on a spectrum for billions of dollars and not had a plan to develop it in case they won? You are dumb.

Had Google won the auction, it would have been developed, either directly by Google or by one of the dozens of companies to which Google could have subcontracted. Nobody is going to piss away billions of dollars.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310896)

Google did not pay for the spectrum and it lost it's rights of complaining. If they are so much for open access - they should have spent their money and provide such access to all. Put up or shut up.
You understand that this is a chunk of spectrum, right? It's not property, it's a range of electromagnetic frequency. The government restricts who can use it in order to prevent overlap, but ultimately, this is a very public resource. What possible motivation could you have for coming down on a company that's trying to open up access to it? Granted, Google has their own interests in this, but they're pushing for something that would ultimately help everyone.

It just seems like you're ASKING to get locked into monopoly control of the spectrum... an odd choice.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311132)

why can't i have my cake and eat it too? has anyone ever bought a cake and not eaten it too?

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23310926)

Except that Verizon is LICENSING the property. They are not owning it.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23311026)

You miss an important point. By making the bid, Google was on the line for the money if somebody else didn't step up. So you can't say they lost their right to complain. The rules were the rules and Google bet (correctly in this case) that someone else would bid higher to keep the spectrum for themselves and keep it from Google. However, Google knew that would obligate the other party to the open access rules.

If anyone is trying to have their cake and eat it too that would be Verizon - they agreed to the rules and now want to fudge it to mean something else entirely.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311190)

Consider a simple scenario - there is a nice lot on a lake, and if it sells for above certain amount, the buyer would have to provide right of way across his property. So, someone that has absolutely no intention of buying this property, but wants to get to walk across to the lake anytime (which he could not currently do as the property is not developed) bids it up until the price is right. You like the place and buy it anyway, but now you presumably have to let the other guy visit and hang around on your private beach whenever he likes. Wouldn't you try to either remove or limit such right of way from your property? Before you answer - think, be honest with yourself. I know I would.
Your analogy would be more accurate with a little tweaking. You can charge people for walking across your property to get the lake, you just can't force people to buy special shoes (that aren't very comfortable and can't be modified in any way, including changing the shoelaces) from you before allowing (and still charging) them to cross your property.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312152)

Actually given that I despise private beaches, I wouldn't really care. I might be bothered if he behaved in an unacceptable fashion, but by that point I could probably just call the cops. You don't buy into a contract that has terms you don't like and just decide to ignore the terms, unless you can show the contract wasn't legal in the first place.

Re:Can't have your cake and eat it too. (1)

keytoe (91531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312738)

The property owner in your scenario does NOT have to provide FREE access to the lake. He's free to charge you for that right. However, once you've paid for the right to cross his property, he cannot dictate that you must hop the whole way instead of walking.

Deniage (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307966)

It would be our job as geeks to verbally demolish Verizon's products using the spectrum if it doesn't follow the open access rules.

While I agree... (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308390)

...have you ever tried to explain to and convince a complete non-geek of something inherently technical without them either perceiving you as a tin-foil hatted nut-job or simply giving up out of apathy?

To do this successfully, you have to be convincing and inspiring with words, able to explain technical facts with exactly the right choice of non-technical words to portray an precise understanding and able to keep your passion of the subject from becoming overbearing. Not many people are.

Legal Standing? (2, Interesting)

Hoffer53 (832181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308046)

Does anything involving the FCC have legal standing?

Re:Legal Standing? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308124)

If you show a boob, or say 'fuckweasel', or run a closeup of some guy's balls, you'll find out how much legal standing they have when they shut you down like Chuck said.

Re:Legal Standing? (4, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308402)

Yes, the FCC gets its authority from Congress. See the Communications Act of 1934 [wikipedia.org] and subsequent legislation.

Re:Legal Standing? (1)

moxley (895517) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310578)

What the hell does "legal standing" even mean in this country in this day and age anymore?

Seriously - especially when you're talking about "regulatory" agencies of the federal government and big telecom businesses that they supposedly oversee for the good of the people.

Whatever happens between the FCC and Verizon - "legal standing" will have very little to do with it; because all of these laws are selectively enforced, and selectively interpreted(or misinterpreted/misappropriated as the case may be) when they ARE actually enforced.

Can somone explain this? (2, Interesting)

chrispycreeme (550607) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308150)

I don't understand what is happening here. I remember google doing something back when the auction was going on to keep the spectrum open. I guess I didn't understand what that meant. Does google now want to control what verizon does on the network? Is the spectrum open or not?

I'm lost.

Re:Can somone explain this? (4, Informative)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308260)

In a nutshell, Google is saying that, based on statements that Verizon has given, that they will not really follow the open access provisions that Verizon agreed to when they made the bid. Google wants the FCC to make Verizon firmly and explicitly pledge that they will follow said open access provisions before performing the final, actual sale of the spectrum.

Re:Can somone explain this? (5, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308426)

Google needs to learn a few things about corporations psychology (applicable for any corporation).
Larry Page needs to read a few pages from the book Corporation.
1. Corporations are pathological liars. If they think they can get away with lying, they will continue to do so (like kids), until they are punished for it.
2. Ethics and promises are applicable to grown-ups. Corporations are psychologically children (under 5 years). Hence ethics have no meaning to them. And so are promises. Suppose you promise a kid a huge bag of M&M to rat out what his mom & dad did last night, he would definitely do, since he can't understand the nuances. So are corporates.
3. If they think they can lie to get something, they will do so, and once they get it, they will avoid doing what they promised. (Remember asking your kid to wash your car? [This does not apply to Australia where washing your car is a crime]).
4. Corporations follow the basic of a child gameplay: What's mine is mine, and what's yours is also mine.
5. Arguing with a child does not work. So does arguing with a corporation. Take for instance the recent open discussion about Net Neutrality and Throttling in which no corporations participated. After all which kid would like to attend a PTA in which he's being criticized?

Rules of the game:
1. Establish clear rules and punishments for good and bad behavior. By laws. Punish severely and reward generously. Quickly. A quick punishment establishes to a child that he cannot repeat the same behavior. if you are going to punish your kid tomorrow for what he did last week, there is no correlation. It confuses the hell out of a kid and the corporation.
2. Never allow the kid (or corporation) to establish rules. That will lead to more wrongs.
3. There are no grace periods or times. One strike and you are out.

FCC here must clearly warn verizon that it is a contract. If they go back on it, their license is revoked with retrospective effect from 1990.
Nothing scares a kid more than a dark room. For a corporation losing a license is like a dark room.
Just delicense them and watch them shiver.

Re:Can somone explain this? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308678)

Just delicense them and watch them shiver.
Yeah right.

More like, just delicense them and watch them deliver the silver to their pet politicians who will quickly see that they are reinstated while the issue is settled in a decade-long court battle. By the time all delays and appeals have been exhausted, the issue will be moot and the corp will have extracted as much revenue from the abused resource as they possibly can and a whole new crew of lawyers will own mansions in the Bahamas.

Re:Can somone explain this? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308734)

Actually that's not what i meant.
Going to court is tax-deductible for corporates. Remove that exemption.
Secondly, remove tax credits if any to all corporates. They ask for level-playing field, they get one.
Remove all monopoly granted rights.
Make it not profitable to litigate.
Make it illegal to donate. If you can't vote, you can't donate.
The main incentive for corporates like Exxon who pay zero tax is the amount of tax deductibles that they get.
Remove all tax exemptions that a natural person can't have. If am salaried, i can't claim gas expenses. So can't corporate-owned jets, etc.
Flat tax code. Period.

Re:Can somone explain this? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310178)

While that would be great in a perfect world, the sad fact is corporations don't really pay taxes anyways. They design their profit structure so that the actual cost of taxes is passed on to the consumer. While what you describe would be great in said perfect world, in the real world you and I would end up paying their tax bills just as we do now.

Re:Can somone explain this? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310740)

I don't buy that.

I am sure that in mature markets where everybody is struggling to make thin profit margins taxes are passed right along.

But in markets with few players and high cost for entry (petroleum for example) the price is determined by demand when supplies are low. Not by the cost of production (which is where taxes would fall (sort of)).

Exxon's price is based on the low supply of crude, and the low refining capacity in the US. Coupled with the fact that adding to either is a multi-year bullion dollar project. If taxes went up people wouldn't be willing to spend more on fuel, and prices wouldn't go up. If this weren't true profits would be flat as prices went up, but they are not.

Re:Can somone explain this? (1)

mckorr (1274964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311954)

I guess you missed the story a couple weeks back where the US petro corps were reducing production. They argued that since the high prices were reducing demand, they were reducing refinery output to match. This, of course, ensures the price of gas remains high, and so do their record breaking profits. Supply/demand economic models are dubious in our current corporate-dominated political structure.

...You're kidding, right? (2, Insightful)

uhlume (597871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309008)

I'd trust the average five year-old over the average corporation any day.

At least most five year-olds aren't actively trying to fuck you over.

Re:Can somone explain this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23309550)

"Never allow the kid (or corporation) to establish rules. "

Including what Google asked for then.

Re:Can somone explain this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23309978)

In my opinion, the FCC should do nothing to enforce the open access regulations. However, the sales contract for the frequency block should have included a provision that will permit the FCC to reclaim those frequencies at or after a certain date if the open access conditions are not met or a certain coverage (e.g. 90% of area, 90% of population) is not reached, keep the sales price and resell at a new auction (or to the second highest bidder at the initial auction).

Re:Corporations are like children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23312688)

A corporation is a legal fiction. It is really just a group of people. Says a lot about the people in charge, doesn't it?

Sneaky bastards (4, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308216)

Oh... those sneaky bastards...

Regardless of your stance on Google, I for one am very happy they are on this case. I find it improbable that any other company would put up as much of a fight as they do.

Open everything! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308354)

Open access! [wikipedia.org]

Open content! [wikipedia.org]

Open governance! [wikipedia.org]

Open source [wikipedia.org] really started something there. ;)

google missed the boat (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308542)

they should have bid higher on it.

the telco's were terrifed of this sell off because it would challenge their hold on the last mile.

Verizon outsmarted Google. Good for them (2, Interesting)

saikou (211301) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309070)

It seems to be like those genie stories -- if you don't spell out your wish in such minute details as to make "misunderstanding" impossible, you won't get what you want. So Google forced FCC to spell out its wish but didn't provide enough details.
Frankly it's understandable -- if device that Verizon sells under its own brand can't do email from the beginning and is not available as a "standalone" product from phone manufacturer, you can't accuse Verizon of disabling the feature (not without defining a superset of all features that have to be available on all phones by default).
Thus "any application" rule automatically does not apply. It's the same as demanding Nokia to include in all its handsets special software for google mail (versus some limited pop3/imap reader).

After that, Verizon is also free to charge different rates based on if user has Verizon device or not. Buying device + plan = "discount". Buying third party "open" device + plan = quadrupled bill with less features.
Rules didn't state that certain features have to be available on all plans for the same price, did they? The [incredibly overpriced] choice will be there.

In the end, Google either had to make FCC to spell out more restrictions, or throw a heap of cash at the auction to actually win it, then spend years learning and building its own network. For now, bad genie may win.

Re:Verizon outsmarted Google. Good for them (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23309568)

They're not outsmarting google. They're screwing their customers.

This comes from a 23-month Verizon customer. My experiences dealing with Verizon have been far worse than past my encounters with AOL, Lawyers, the IRS, and the DMV combined.

They're really that bad, and it leaves me disheartened that they can legally get away with treating their customers like that.

Re:Verizon outsmarted Google. Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23312130)

Nice anecdote...

I have one for you too...

This comes from a 24-month Verizon customer. My experiences dealing with Verizon have been far better than my past encounters with AT&T, SWB, the cable company, DirectTV, Walmart, Sprint, and Allstate combined.

They're really that good, and it leaves me pleased that they can treat there customers so much better than the rest.

Re:Verizon outsmarted Google. Good for them (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311240)

Yes. Bad Google! For expecting the FCC to take your agreed upon restrictions on good faith.

Problems with the Auction (2, Insightful)

qazwart (261667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23310318)

I never was completely happy with the format of the auction in the first place. The auction allowed a single carrier to be the "winner" of the entire spectrum. This didn't do anything but guarantee a monopolistic situation. Verizon has a big advantage over everyone else due to the absolute control of this spectrum.

I also don't like the fact that Verizon uses CDMA since CDMA is not quite as open or as useful as GSM. In GSM devices, there's a SIM card. I can insert a company SIM card into any GSM device, and it's on there network. With CDMA, I have to bring my device to Verizon to setup. If Verizon claims my device isn't compatible with their network, I can't use that device.

I was not happy with Verizon as a winner. Like AT&T, they have monopolistic tendencies and use their built in land line base advantage to squeeze competitors. What could have been a world with dozens of carriers is quickly turning into a AT&T/Verizon duopoly.

Notice the trend... (2, Insightful)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23311050)

If you notice, the duopoly/monopoly is coming back in a big way. Besides Cellular service, look at Airline consolidation, and across other industries. Small competitors are disappearing in just about every industry.

I guess right now we are in a "business-friendly" period, which tends to translate to the customer getting screwed, paying more for less, which should actually be Verizon's motto.

It's like this, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23310628)

Verizon just bought a multi-billion dollar milkshake. Google wants to use its several million dollar straw(s) to SUCK UP VERIZON's milkshake. Say it, Verizon: You make a false profit and closed-access is a superstition.

Don't mess with the Freakin' FCC (2, Insightful)

dohadeer (598581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23312928)

"Google's filing has no legal standing." Whew, good thing the FCC is not a judicial body, but rather a legislature-appointed commission with loosely-defined and self-expanded powers of regulation over said wavelengths. If Google had filed in a court, I'd say there was no legal standing, since Google did not incur any damages and only a party who has been damaged can seek recourse in a court of equity. However, since the FCC is a regulatory agency, I'm pretty sure any citizen (or corporation) can lodge a complaint. Case in point, no one had to deal with anything "legal" related when George Carlin's "words you can't say on radio" was adopted as the official list of words you're not allowed to say after normal, average citizens complained to the FCC about hearing a rebroadcast of the routine on the radio. No one had "legal standing" after the famous Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction", but the FCC still acted on the complaints it received and levied some of the largest fines in broadcasting history. Verizon is not going to be able to run counter to the FCC's will without a protracted legal battle which would need to, at its heart, question the boundaries of the FCC's regulatory power.... Actually, that may not be such a bad thing.
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