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Google Nervous About Verizon's Open Access 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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Google Nervous About Verizon's Open Access

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  • Nervous? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No, I think they just want Verizon to play by the rules.
  • by BoogeyOfTheMan ( 1256002 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @10:54PM (#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.
  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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..... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:51PM (#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..... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @02:31AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sammy baby ( 14909 )
          Exactly. Also - this is likely to be exactly what Google will argue gives them legal standing. From their comments after the auction []:

          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 impor

      • You don't think four and a half billion dollars is a "reasonable" bid? What planet are you from?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 )
        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.
      • 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..... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:16AM (#23311628) Journal

          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.

          • 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.
            • Except verizon - No sim card
            • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

              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.

    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:27PM (#23308068)
      A cat fight for the C block? Didn't I see this movie on Cinemax not too long ago?
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Malevolyn ( 776946 ) *
        You mean the late night block, don't you? Because uh... I have no idea what comes on during that block.
        • I remember watching "The Naked Detective" when I was a middle schooler. It was the most absurd softcore porn I'd ever seen.
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

            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 ;)

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @10:58PM (#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: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
      • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2008 @10:59PM (#23307864)
    Just get the FCC to state that if that block of spectrum is not open, Verizon loses the license, no money back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bruha ( 412869 )
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afidel ( 530433 )
        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 [] says the total US ringtone market is $500M, carrier cost for subsidizing phones has to be an order of magnitude more than that.
        • by bzudo ( 1151979 )
          $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.
          • FWIW, I was able to use bluetooth to send an mp3 (and mid) to my verizon LG.

            YMMV though, I suspect..
            • 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. :(
              • You might want to check ebay for a USB cable for your phone--I've gotten several cables over the years and don't think I've ever paid more than about $5 (shipping included). Then you can use software like Bitpim ( [])--just make sure it supports your phone.
        • "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 whate
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

            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.

          • by afidel ( 530433 )
            Again why would they care if you use a Google phone? If you want very high speed wireless you will need a Verizon contract, that was the point of buying the spectrum. The equivalent product from the competition won't be nearly as good because they simply don't have the bandwidth.
            • by mgblst ( 80109 )
              The carries have exhibited a lot more control over handsets to this point, including the ability to say what goes in a handset. With an open network, they will lose this control.

              So basically they are losing some control, which is the same sort of problem that the RIAA companies are having. And companies don't like to lose control, because it means they make less money.
        • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

          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.

          • by afidel ( 530433 )
            I won't try to justify the ETF, it's not excusable other than to say that people do sign contracts. As to the cost of subsidies, they are replacing probably an average of ~80M cellphones a year (There are ~250M cellphone lines in the US) so they are buying that many handsets and financing those purchases.
    • I'm sure Verizon wouldn't let this happen without a huge fight.
    • by Bombula ( 670389 )
      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.

  • by jnadke ( 907188 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:02PM (#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.

  • 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 ac
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:17PM (#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.
    • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:21PM (#23308040) Journal

      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.

      • by Achoi77 ( 669484 )

        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.

    • by Yhippa ( 443967 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:25PM (#23308058) Journal
      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.
      • 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 bi
        • Wow, the logic just went right out the window with that post. What in the wide world of sports are you talking about? The FCC has their heads of their asses and they have for some time now. Openness is a good thing. Did you notice that you are on Slashdot? Did you forget which website you were posting too? I could care less what Google did to get the FCC to wake the fuck up. The point is they did and Verizon knew what THEY were getting into when they bid that much money. Verizon is just an evil company with
          • Logic has very little to do with preventing companies from asserting their own rules over a government controlled medium.

            I'm talking about preventing back room deals and (more) corporate influence over the government.

            Heads UP their asses.

            Openness is neither inherently good nor inherently bad.

            Yes - I know I'm on Slashdot. Why would I forget where I was posting? Should I cater to the mob mentality? I think not.

            You COULDN'T care less. If you could care less, then you care some. If you couldn't care less,
            • Wow, are you one of those moral relativists? What's right for me is wrong for you but since its right for me I can do it and its morally right? The point of my post was that (Yes grammar Nazi) I COULDN'T care less what Google did IN THIS SITUATION because the outcome of THOSE ACTIONS WERE GOOD. Plus the outcome of those actions didn't help them anymore then it helped everyone else involved including most importantly the consumer.

              Look I understand Google can be evil at times. Some of the decisions about w
              • The outcome of Google's actions have yet to be seen. Or do you know how Verizon will use the spectrum, how consumers will react, and other such things from the future? Google does not care about you in any measure beyond the amount of money you can generate for them.

                Google is not right. Verizon is not wrong.

                Google's participation was that of a shill, which is illegal.

                Verizon will surely contest those "rules" on legal grounds, and the courts will determine whether or not the rules have legal legs to stan
    • 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 h
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:33PM (#23308118) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by Bytal ( 594494 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:48PM (#23308208) Homepage
      How can they have no intention of buying if they bid above the minimum? Is it their fault that Verizon outbid them?
    • by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:05AM (#23308300) Homepage Journal

      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 [] 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).

      • Worth twice as much != having liquid cash to buy a less valued company.
        • Well... Google has $6 Billion on hand and Verizon is worth $111B. If Google maintained the status quo for 5 years without investing in other business areas, there could reasonably accumulate $50-70 Billion in cash and cash equivalents and finance a Verizon takeover.

          And Verizon's assets would probably be worth a price tag of $100-150 Billion... depending if Verizon can make itself more valuable over that time (which is doubtful if they alienate customers from their ivory towers).

    • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:08AM (#23308328) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • 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?)

        • by Infonaut ( 96956 )

          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?)

          The government sold the rights to use the spectrum, which are transferrable, but the government also has the power to impose restrictions on that use. The common fallacy of expansive interpretations of "ownership" of statutorily-created rights in intangibles such as intellectual property and spectrum is that these righ

    • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:34AM (#23308452) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by drew ( 2081 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:41AM (#23308490) Homepage
      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.
    • 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. 
    • 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 :-)
    • by hey! ( 33014 )
      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.
    • 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.
    • by ajs ( 35943 )

      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 in

      • by bzudo ( 1151979 )
        why can't i have my cake and eat it too? has anyone ever bought a cake and not eaten it too?
    • 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.

    • 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.
    • by keytoe ( 91531 )
      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.
  • 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.
    • ...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? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hoffer53 ( 832181 )
    Does anything involving the FCC have legal standing?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:34PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:22AM (#23308402) Homepage
      Yes, the FCC gets its authority from Congress. See the Communications Act of 1934 [] and subsequent legislation.
    • by moxley ( 895517 )
      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 th
  • by chrispycreeme ( 550607 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:39PM (#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.
    • by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:58PM (#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.
      • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:26AM (#23308426) Homepage Journal
        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.
        • 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.

          • 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 a
            • 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.
              • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
                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 do
                • by mckorr ( 1274964 )
                  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.
                  • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
                    This still supports that taxes have very little to do with the price set.

                    They want to go as high as possible on profits. Cost has little to do with it.

                    If $2.00/gallon tax were added the price would most likely increase by some number $2.00.
        • 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.
  • Sneaky bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:50PM (#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.
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:48AM (#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.

  • by saikou ( 211301 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @02:41AM (#23309070) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.
    • by bzudo ( 1151979 )
      Yes. Bad Google! For expecting the FCC to take your agreed upon restrictions on good faith.
  • by qazwart ( 261667 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @07:37AM (#23310318) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.
    • by Duhavid ( 677874 )
      I would add to that,

      Why was it a one time "purchase" and not a long term, cancellable-if-we-get-a-higher-bid ( restrictions on that would be reasonable ) "lease"?
  • "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 co
  • Isn't the act of bidding, already a pledge in itself? Verizon knew the conditions, and elected to bid anyway. They've already agreed.

    If they violate that term of the sale, it isn't any different from violating any other term of the sale, such as not paying. Should that happen, then the spectrum isn't theirs. FCC can thank them for their $4.7B donation, and no harm has been done, except for their frivolously delaying the sale of the spectrum, but the $4.7B donation is sufficient pennence for that.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.