Correction to This Article
This article incorrectly said that Verizon Wireless had changed its position and would support a proposed open-access network in a coming Federal Communications Commission airwaves auction. Verizon Wireless said it does not support an open-access network.

Verizon Changes Course, Supports Open-Access Plan

By Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2007

In a last-minute policy shift, Verizon Wireless said yesterday that it would support a plan requiring a portion of airwaves to be available to any wireless device. But the company that builds the network on those airwaves, Verizon said, shouldn't have to guarantee that all applications, such as games and videos, will work properly.

Verizon has firmly opposed a proposal put forth by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin that would require that a large swath of airwaves, to be auctioned in January, be used to build a network open to any wireless device or service.

Currently, wireless carriers control the handsets and features available to consumers.

Google and other Internet companies have argued that opening the network to all devices would benefit consumers and allow a new entrant into the wireless market.

But Verizon has said such a requirement would hurt traditional wireless carriers, which want to buy the spectrum to roll out services on their networks.

A majority of FCC commissioners told a House telecommunications subcommittee Tuesday that they supported the "open access" requirement. With an FCC vote on the auction's rules scheduled for Tuesday, Verizon said it will consider allowing any device to access its network. But, it said yesterday in a statement, it would guarantee only services bought directly from Verizon.

Last week, AT&T also said it supported Martin's open-access proposal.

Google said it would consider bidding at least $4.6 billion for the airwaves but only if the FCC also mandates that the auction winner be required to resell some of the bandwidth to other companies.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company