Verizon launches legal bid to stop FCC radio spectrum auction

14 Sep 2007

Verizon Wireless has launched an appeal against the Federal Communication Commission (FCC’s) final rules for the upcoming radio spectrum auction, saying the US regulator’s proposed laws concerning so-called ‘open-access conditions’ are ‘arbitrary’ and ‘capricious’. Dow Jones writes that in a filing to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Verizon has called on the courts to remove a section of the FCC’s rules in which the regulator committed to the sale of 62MHz of radio spectrum via auction next year. In Verizon’s opinion, those rules exceed ‘the Commission’s authority…and is arbitrary and capricious, unsupported by substantial evidence and otherwise contrary to law.’ The FCC has decided to append two conditions on a significant portion of the spectrum being auctioned in an attempt to encourage new market entrants to bid for rights to offer wireless broadband services. Commissioners for the agency stated that buyers of 22MHz of spectrum would be required to ‘allow any handset device be attached to the wireless network they subsequently build and allow any software application be downloaded onto handsets over the network’ says Dow Jones. These two conditions would dramatically alter the telecoms landscape where companies such as Verizon exert great control over both the handset devices and software applications that customers can use.

The likes of Google and eBay’s internet telephony provider, Skype, have been aggressively pushing the FCC to adopt the conditions, but traditional telecoms operators are fighting hard to counter the perceived threat of open-access rules.