FCC Former Chairman Says Agency Lacks Control Over Handset Makers

In an appearance this morning at a Seattle breakfast event, former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, now a partner at Patton Boggs, was careful not to offer any jabs at the current administration.
Instead, he focused on the current administration’s plans for rolling out a new national broadband plan, scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday. One subject that came up was the fight for open access to wireless networks, a key platform issue of his. In particular, he noted how the government is now more concerned about the obstructionist role that handset makers like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) or Google (NSDQ: GOOG) play, than it is about the behavior of the wireless networks. But regulators have less control over the former.
Open access is a term Martin knows all about. During his stint as FCC Chairman, he helped push through rules in a spectrum auction that would require the winner — in this case, Verizon Wireless — to ensure open access to its network. While vague, it means that Verizon won’t be able to limit users, devices or applications on the network. However, Verizon has just started to build-out its 4G network, so it’s still unclear how that will be practiced. Martin said.
Martin: “I think what the commission did with the open access piece was an important step…Prior to 2007, there was resistance from the carriers to any kind of open architecture, including the inclusion of WiFi chips in devices, even though today that