AT&T Inc. has backed away from earlier complaints about proposed open-access rules on parts of the 700MHz spectrum to be auctioned by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission by early next year.
Draft auction rules floated by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin have "struck an interesting and creative balance between the competing interests" that are lobbying the commission, AT&T said of its understanding of those rules in a statement Wednesday.
The Free State Foundation, a digital rights group, has said Martin's draft rules don't go far enough. While Martin wants device portability and no blocking of Web applications, he hasn't called for wholesale access to the spectrum. Without wholesale access, it's unlikely a third broadband service could challenge cable and telecom services, Public Knowledge has said.
Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge, called the new AT&T position a "remarkable turnaround."
But Randolph May, president of the conservative think tank, The Free State Foundation, said he disagrees with AT&T's interpretation of what the auction rules would allow.
"My impression (perhaps erroneously) had been that Chairman Martin's proposal would mandate an open access ... regime in the one block [of the spectrum]," May wrote in an e-mail. "There is a significant difference between 'allowing' and 'mandating.' My understanding is that absent a mandate, nothing at all in any existing or proposed FCC rule would prevent the winning bidder from voluntarily adopting an open access business model."
Complete article at PC World