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September 14, 2007

At Least Verizon Isn’t GFing the FCC

When  I was at the old AT&T, the unlovely word “grin-fucking” – GFing for short - was used to describe the common practice of pretending to agree with someone while preparing to stab him or her in the back. Verizon Wireless, however, is being right out front in its opposition to the part of the FCC order for the 700MHz spectrum auction which requires that the winning bidder for the C band keep that spectrum open for user-chosen devices and applications. Here’s the meat of what they filed:

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Not surprisingly, Verizon doesn’t want you to use “their” spectrum to download ringtones or games from anyone else. More seriously, they wouldn’t want you to use VoIP over WiFi or something nasty like that and bypass their tollbooths. Since they don’t really need this spectrum anyway but have a lot to gain by making sure it doesn’t fall into dangerous competing hands like say Google, it makes all the sense in the world for them to file suit and gain either delay or change.

But it is surprising that at&t, after initially opposing the FCC’s openness provision, now says that they can live with it and that it is a reasonable compromise between what Google wanted and what they wanted. Why is at&t being so reasonable?

Could it be that the new at&t understands GFing as well as its predecessor? Could it be that they are confident of their ability to avoid actually complying with these conditions even if they nominally agree with them? Could that confidence be based on the fact that the FCC does not seem to be enforcing the conditions which at&t agreed to just last year for buying BellSouth? Or on the fact that neither Congress or the executive branch or the judiciary has ever forced them to live up to all the promises for investment and new services they made in return for deregulation? Or are they confident because anti-trust seems to be out of style and the Justice Department has advised that “competition” will determine whether net neutrality is a good idea?

Hmmm…

At least we know where Verizon stands.

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