Since then, according to RCR Wireless News, Martin -- who made some fairly eloquent calls over the summer for open, competitive networks -- has been "aggressively pushing for prompt revisions to the 700 MHz open-access rule."
So, after a few rounds of whist and some martinis with Verizon suits, Martin changes his tune and now wants to scotch the very provisions on which he had previously staked his legacy. It's no wonder that interlopers who want to upset the carriers' oligopoly, like Google and start-up Frontline Wireless, have decried the "opaque" nature of the Verizon meeting and demanded that the chairman not waver from his previously stated positions.
"We hope the FCC sticks to its guns as it tries to introduce the open ethos of the Net to a small segment of the closed wireless world," wrote Richard Whitt, Google's D.C. lobbyist, on his policy blog yesterday.
Interestingly, Whitt now says that Verizon is using a clever feint to convince the commission to dilute the open-access requirements. Rather than striking down the provisions altogether, Whitt says, "Verizon appears to be arguing that . . . the requirements for open devices and open applications should not apply to a licensee's own devices."
Under this scenario, you could bring an unlocked device from a handset vendor to a Verizon-owned network, but you couldn't buy unlocked devices from Verizon -- a ploy that would preserve the cornerstone of the wireless carriers' fortress, their ability to control what their customers can do with the devices they sell them.
Martin looks like a clever high-school sophomore, and he's a somewhat colorless public figure (he entirely lacks the panache and quotability of his predecessor Reed Hundt, who happens to be a co-founder of Frontline). There's nothing in his biography to suggest that he has the sangfroid to be a staunch and vigilant supporter of the consumer in the face of corporate muscle. Let's hope he finds some.