BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Testifying today before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Steve Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless, urged Congress to refuse calls for open access regulation, and to ensure a fair and open auction of the 700 MHz spectrum.
The FCC, with Congressional oversight, should not be in the position of pre-determining or telegraphing auction winners. Reports of special rules for any company or segment of the high-tech industry that would tip the balance in their favor and circumvent a true auction are problematic. The so-called "Google Block" with rules tailored to one company's goal leads in that direction. If these rules are unavoidable, the amount of spectrum allocated to this open access experiment should be minimal, in order to ensure that the true value of this national resource is not diminished.
Auction winners should be determined by market forces and by supply and demand. Recent news reports indicate that a proposal for the upcoming auction of the 700 MHz spectrum will be released publicly shortly. The proposal, which will be followed by continued discussion about the auction rules, is just the beginning of the process that will culminate with an auction in early 2008.
"The wireless industry has produced a steady stream of innovations from devices, to applications, to features that have given American consumers myriad choices about how they use their wireless service," said Zipperstein. "Consumer choice would be the casualty of policies that mandate that all companies do the same thing the same way."
Verizon Wireless has spurred and participated in this innovation, introducing video and music services and encouraging the development of other voice and data services. The launch of Apple's iPhone, which works only on a competitor's second generation network, continues to represent the "walled garden" approach that has others calling for open access.
Open and fair auctions, in which any company can participate on equal footing, historically have provided the best value for Americans. Since the first spectrum auction was conducted, billions of dollars have been added to the U.S. Treasury enabling programs that benefit all Americans.
Auction winners and wireless service providers are not prohibited from providing open systems, but spectrum is a shared resource that needs to be managed efficiently in order to support the needs of all users including public safety on the network. Without rigorous network testing and monitoring, there's no guarantee that federal mandates including CALEA and E911 will be met, a significant concern in an era of heightened national security concerns. It does not serve the public interest to open wireless networks to devices that cannot reliably communicate with law enforcement.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving more than 60.7 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 66,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.