Free Press: Free The iPhone

JULY 13, 2007
2:14 PM

CONTACT: Free Press 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x22

Free Press Launches For Wireless Freedom and Real Open Access Across All Mobile Networks

WASHINGTON - JULY 13 - Today, Free Press launched -- a campaign demanding an open, competitive wireless Internet for everyone. Apple's iPhone -- locked into AT&T's slow, closed network -- is a bellweather for the future of mobile Internet. Bad policies have created an unhealthy wireless industry where companies like AT&T and Verizon are gatekeepers over the mobile Internet -- with the power to block competition and chain devices to their slow-speed networks.

The campaign aims to change all of that. In coming weeks, the campaign will urge Americans to demand that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress give them the freedom to use all Internet devices on any wireless network in a marketplace that offers true competition, services and consumer choice.

"This issue goes well beyond the iPhone. It's about a dysfunctional wireless system that stifles innovation and competition across the country," said Timothy Karr, Free Press campaign director. "We need real open access, which opens networks for innovation and wholesale markets for competition. Until we have this, the iPhone -- and other innovative gadgets like it -- will never reach full potential." is demanding wireless freedom based on three core principles: the freedom for consumers to use whatever device they want on any network; the freedom to choose among providers in a competitive wholesale marketplace; and the freedom for consumers to access any content or services they want through their devices.

Watch a video of Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, explaining wireless freedom

During the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet -- dubbed the "iPhone hearing" -- members from both sides of the aisle called for a new wireless system, where wholesalers could compete and new applications and devices could be connected regardless of carrier. Chairman Markey (D-Mass.) opened the hearing by saying that the iPhone "highlights both the promise and the problems with the wireless industry today."

Rep. "Chip" Pickering (R-Miss.) echoed the chairman's remarks, calling for more openness in the marketplace, "Openness is creating interoperability for devices so that you can use a device, whether it's an iPhone or another device, with whatever function you choose. If you want to go to a Wi-Fi or WiMax spot and use it, or if you want to have the access to other networks, you can do so. That's openness in wholesale."

The government is about to auction off valuable public airwaves that could provide millions of Americans with better wireless Internet access. More than a quarter-million Americans have called upon the FCC and Congress to open up these airwaves to new competitors. Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin circulated a proposal calling for this spectrum to be open to all devices -- a move that would still close the network to wholesale competition.

"What Chairman Martin is proposing isn't true open access, and it won't create the broadband competition we need," said S. Derek Turner, research director at Free Press. "Martin's plan to unlock devices still leaves us with the same few companies that are trying to undercut competition, and whose broken promises on broadband deployment and innovation have left us with a slow, expensive network and a vast digital divide."

Watch the campaign's launch video

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