The way the 700MHz auction played out was pretty darn interesting, but the recent antics between Block C winner (Verizon) and Block C bluffer (Google) are straight up theatrical.
When Google pushed the bidding above the reserve, never planning to purchase, it forced the Winner of the Block C auction to provide an “Open” spectrum that could not legally, “deny, limit or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.”
Verizon knew the winner had to play by these rules. The same rules for which Verizon sued the FCC hoping to change beforehand. They didn’t win that fight and they still purchased Block C for billions of dollars… knowing the rules. But did they have a trick up their sleeve?
They seemingly “saw the light” and completely reversed their opinion, releasing a press release in late November of 2007 outlining their “Any Apps, Any Device” program that would begin in 2008. Under the program, customers could bring any handset passing Verizon’s admittedly easy standards for use on the Verizon network and use any application on it as well.
Really? Was it that easy to make nice with the Big Red? Not at all… they then seemingly plotted to do the teenage equivalent of sneaking out after midnight and saying they didn’t know they had a curfew.
One can interpret rules and laws in different ways and thus is half the reason the Judicial branch exists in America. Google had an irking suspicion that Verizon was going to allow any application on any device as demanded by the FCC guidelines. But what if “any device” didn’t include Verizon devices? What if Verizon claimed that because the FCC was obviously discussing devices external to the Verizon network that “any device” meant “any non-Verizon device”?
Then Google told Mom on Verizon.
“Moooooooooooooooooooom,” Google screamed, “I heard Verizon talking to his friends and he is going to sneak out after midnight!”
Mom is of course the FCC and the Google scream came by way of a Formal Petition to the FCC. In the petition, Google suggests the FCC would be made to look like fools if they somehow let Verizon get away with the above possibility. It would be counter productive to the entire concept of the Open Spectrum, Google claims, and they suggest the FCC demand Verizon formerly clarify, in writing, their explicit intent to abide by the rules.
Verizon then simultaneously acknowledged the authority of “Mom” while dropping a Put-You-In-Your-Place Bitch Slap to Google for tattle-taling:
Jim Gerace’s post on the Verizon Policy Blog appeases the FCC by saying, “Of course we’ll abide by those rules,” while openly shunning the Big G, “If Google or anybody else has evidence we aren’t playing by the rules, there are legitimate and expedited ways to address that.”
Expedite. Interesting word there Mr. Gerace. You’ll notice that win Verizon initially sued the FCC I didn’t say they “lost” the case… they simply didn’t win. Their case was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit asking them to “hold unlawful” the open platform conditions.
Verizon didn’t lose because they withdrew their petition for expedited review. That simply means the courts didn’t think the evidence suitable enough to make a rushed decision and the matter would have to go to court. That is when, of course, Verizon unveiled their “Any Apps, Any Device” plan.
But now the tables have seemingly turned and Verizon is showing Google the Mobile Finger. Google desperately needs the Block C Spectrum to be completely open to allow for the unhindered success of their Open Mobile OS – Android. And that is no secret.
In their FCC petition, Google stated, “Action now is especially necessary given the long lead time typically required for software applications developers and device manufacturers to design, develop and deploy their products to the public.”
They might as well have just said, “Hurry the hell up… Android is on the way.”
Now, being the winner and the actual terms of “Open” and “Any” not being clarified, it seems the burden of proof has fallen on Google’s shoulders by way of the FCC. Given how irate Verizon Wireless seems, they’ve probably got some intention to at least make Google’s life difficult.
Google and Verizon are both feeling the heat… you could even say they have the “Heebie GeeVees”
We won’t have to wait long to see how the next Chapter unfolds… the article on Verizon’s Policy Blog also states, We expect to file at the Federal Communications Commission within the next several days on this matter.”
Even if they 100% agree to follow the FCC’s terms you can be SURE that this battle, which has escalated beyond a sibling rivalry, will continue. Afterall, Verizon still holds the keys to the Spectrum and can build regulations and terms for passing their “Open Standards” that pigeon hole Android devices and apps into going through more rigorous testing by creatively addressing their “standards” to do so.
This is just getting good… off come the gloves and for us… out comes the popcorn.