For Immediate Release
Open Networks a Must in Wireless Mergers
WASHINGTON - With the Federal Communications Commission poised for a Nov. 4 vote
on the Verizon Wireless-Alltel merger and the Sprint Nextel-Clearwire
deal, Free Press is calling for conditions that require both wireless
networks to be open to all devices and applications. The proposed
conditions are similar to open-network rules attached to a large chunk
of the 700 MHz wireless spectrum, auctioned to Verizon Wireless for
$4.7 billion earlier this year.
Since the FCC's 700 MHz auction, many wireless carriers -- including
Verizon and Sprint -- have made public moves toward openness. Verizon
announced the "Open Development Initiative" to "allow customers to use
any device and any application" on the company's wireless network. And
Sprint recently launched its new WiMAX service, asserting that its
"open Internet business model transcends other carriers' wireless
walled gardens that restrict services, choice and innovation."
But despite these public promises, both companies still reserve the
right in their terms of service to block devices and applications on
their networks. In FCC filings, Free Press and members of the Public
Interest Spectrum Coalition argue that merger conditions will ensure
that wireless companies actually deliver the open networks they
Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:
"Merger conditions provide an essential consumer protection in an
increasingly consolidated wireless industry. Openness should not be a
privilege that a lucky few customers enjoy on the wireless Internet --
it should be backed up with guarantees of user choice for everyone.
"We commend wireless carriers for supporting open-network
principles. But we're concerned that these companies still reserve the
right to block applications and devices in the fine print.
"As wireless competition dwindles, the FCC must adopt policies that
put more choices and greater innovation in the hands of mobile users.
Open-network conditions ensure that wireless companies walk the walk,
not just talk the talk."
PISC's Verizon-Alltel filing: http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6520037839
PISC's Sprint-Clearwire filing: http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6520169303
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