So this morning my communications law class was earnestly discussing the 700 MHz auction rules when, suddenly, one of the students lifted his head from his screen and said, “Verizon just announced they’re opening everything up!”
(I’m always a fan of internet access in the classroom, and this gives me a good story to use with other teachers. “See, it’s useful, not just a distraction.”)
We immediately started discussing why Verizon is doing what it’s doing. And the context was clear, because it was the subject of the class: it’s the auction. The short form applications are due on Monday, and the rules for the C Block (limited as they are, see yesterday’s despairing post) require some form of openness to applications and devices. VZ probably doesn’t want to see Google win that C Block, so it will need to be in there acting open. So it might as well actually try some openness.
So far, the blogosphere is cautiously optimistic. Om Malik, Harold Feld, Public Knowledge – they’re all weighing in. There’s some suspicion, deep-seated suspicion, about how this will all play out in practice. We may get cheap phones but expensive network access. Verizon may still be providing a very-non-neutral network. Who knows if you’ll actually be able to use the applications you want to on that network – will the packets be transmitted?
But it’s a move in the right direction, and my class is confident that it was done all for them.