FCC Commissioner Takes Brave Stand for Open Access

For too long, spectrum use has been the byproduct of back-channel maneuvering between powerful industry lobbyists and government officials.
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FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has taken a stand for open access to our airwaves as the federal agency prepares to announce rules for the upcoming "700 auction."

The move paves the way for better, more open and affordable access to the Internet for tens of millions of Americans. It's now up to the remaining four commissioners to follow Adelstein's strong lead.

"We need to identify meaningful spectrum on which to establish an open-access environment,"
in an interview on Wednesday. "This will open these key airwaves to badly needed competition.

Momentum Builds for Open Access

The commissioner joins other prominent politicians and decision makers, including presidential candidate John Edwards and Sen. John Kerry, who are joining the call for more open, neutral and competitive Internet marketplace in America

The outcome of the auction and ultimate use of these new airwaves have revolutionary consequences. This valuable slice of airwaves could beam cheap, high-speed Internet signals to every park bench, schoolroom, workplace, and home in America. It could deliver essential wireless services to communities that have been overlooked by the cable and phone incumbents, which control high-speed Internet access for more than 96 percent of residential American users.

While rules governing this valuable slice of spectrum are complex, the issue captured the attention of more than a quarter-million Americans who earlier this month called on the FCC to open these airwaves.

Ending the Spectrum Swindle

For too long, spectrum use has been the byproduct of back-channel maneuvering between powerful industry lobbyists and government officials.

Dominant phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon, seem intent on hording this valuable asset. If their actions at earlier spectrum auctions are any guide, they will seek to team up against bidding by new entrants and stifle competitive and cheaper alternatives to their overpriced services.

The FCC must determine that the sale of spectrum be structured to foster new entrants in an Internet access marketplace that lacks real consumer choice and competitive pricing. Open, neutral access is the answer.

Members of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition -- including Consumers Union, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and Free Press -- have urged the FCC to ensure that the upcoming auction sets aside at least half of the available spectrum for "open networks."

In addition, more than 40 leading technologists, wireless innovators, civic organizations and others sent a joint letter to the FCC calling for a sizable portion of the airwaves to be licensed on an "open access" basis to usher more competition into the marketplace.

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