'Open access' battle heats up in D.C.

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TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: Lots of lobbying going on right now about something you can't see — wireless spectrum, a tiny sliver of airwaves, to be on the block next year from the FCC.

Verizon weighed in on it Wednesday after Google jumped into the game last week. From Washington, Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: Potential newcomers to the wireless business like Google are supportive of "open access." If the full FCC approves the plan, Google is willing to start the bidding at $4.6 billion.

Established carriers are against open access. They say they'd pay more for the spectrum without it. Wireless analyst Andrew Seybold says the FCC chairman's proposal would amount to giving Google a government handout.

Andrew Seybold: If Google wants to bid and win, they can do whatever they want with their spectrum — but they shouldn't impose this kind of model on other bidders.

But Bob Williams at Consumers Union says a rejection of the open access proposal would give established wireless providers an edge. Bad for newcomers and consumers, he says.

Bob Williams: You know, if the phone companies had their way, we'd still all be using black rotary dial phones.

He says these big spectrum sales don't come around often. And the airwaves up for sale are particularly valuable, because they can travel long distances and penetrate walls.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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