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US regulator wants open wireless broadband

Kevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has called for the winners of the forthcoming 700 MHz radio spectrum auction in the US to provide “truly open” access, resulting in a wireless broadband internet model that mirrors the fixed-line world.

The proposals, which were aired in an interview with American newspaper USA Today, will make uncomfortable reading for the mobile network operators who see their preferred role as gatekeepers to the mobile internet being redefined at best to that of obliging doormen.

Martin’s proposals are to be circulated in the FCC as early as Tuesday according to the newspaper. “Whoever wins this spectrum has to provide a truly open broadband network … one that will open the door to a lot of innovative services for consumers,” Martin said in the interview. “You can use any wireless device and download any mobile broadband application, with no restrictions,” he added.

It’s great news for device manufacturers and internet application providers. Until now US operators have been far more restrictive than their European counterparts. Smartphone and dual mode terminals are more prevalent in Europe than in the US. Martin’s proposals could help change all that.

The 700 MHz spectrum, previously used by terrestrial television, is due to be auctioned off early 2008.


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