The company that said its First Amendment rights were being challenged by FCC auction rules that required open access now bows to inevitable: Verizon Wireless said today that it would allow devices, software, and services to be used on its network by the end of 2008 as a new "choice"--read, "new billing plan"--a remarkable turnabout from its position during the 700 MHz C Block auction filings process. The company had complained the FCC adding the requirement that the national C Block licenses allow any legitimate device, program, or service to operate was unfair and illegal.
Of course, cellular operators have extensive and expensive certification programs for devices and programs, and typically control the services themselves, even if third parties offer them; the services run through the carriers' systems. What Verizon's press release states is that the company will release an open set of technical standards and allow any device meeting the "mininum technical standard" to work on the network. This should dramatically reduce costs, but I wait to hear from the community of firms that currently develop certified cell network devices.
This change could affect the bidding in the C Block auction in early 2008. It was assumed that Verizon would stay out of the auction to keep the price down, and bolster its legal position for future appeals or lawsuits. AT&T was likely to get in, as it had earlier agreed that the basic outline of requirements was fine. With Verizon's change, this seems to signal that they'll be part of the bidding, which makes the outcome of the auction more likely to reach the minimum the FCC has set for both C Block ($4.6b) and the entire auction ($10b).