FCC finally approved the rules for the new 700 MHz spectrum that will be auctioned off next year. Of course FCC is expected to raise as much as $10B-$15B from this auction but that's not the point. The most significant provision passed this time around is for "open access". 22 MHz of the 60 MHz spectrum will be auctioned off using "open access" provision which will allow any cell phone device and any software to work on the network built by an operator using this piece of the spectrum. This could be the turning point for US mobile market where we are constantly reminded by the big cell phone operators that we are stupid, we are technology-handicapped and we can't take care of ourselves, our technology and our applications and therefore they need to act as our savior and limit our choices. Oh before I forget, people in developing countries in Asia (and Europe) are not blessed with these saviors. But I digress...
We are still many years away from bearing the fruit of this provision. Spectrum will be available in Feb of 2009 (when television broadcasters will officially cut off all analog transmission in this frequency band) and it will take a few years and a bit of investment (of the order of billions of dollars) to build out such a network. While we wait for this to happen, AT&T is still offering deals on Motorola and Nokia phones here.
And I am interested in seeing if it creates real competition for existing big boys from new players, be it Google or a regional telecom player. But we do need someone to realize an opportunity to build a national footprint and bring innovation in the mobile space that this country desperately needs!

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