Columbia Professor: "Open Up That Spectrum, Mr. FCC"

Right now to enter the wireless market, you pretty much have to go through of the Big Four wireless providers, who, as Columbia professor Tim Wu puts it, "tend to approve only established partners whose devices fit their business plans, which is why we have yet to see all those wireless devices that were supposed to be in our future."

His solution? Mandate that future owners of chunks of the 700Mhz spectrum being auctioned off when analog TV goes kaput in 2009 make their networks neutral, allowing any "safe" device to attach to them, kind of like landlines.

Doing so would spur innovation, as Wireless Widgets could then bypass Big Wireless and put out ground-breaking, disruptive devices directly to consumers, ones the Big Four would never allow (sort of like Skype aims to do). Ars sees two other possibilities for the 700Mhz band, given its long range: "establish a new competitor in the wireless phone space and create a third national broadband option to rival cable and DSL."

Naturally, the Big Four aren't exactly enthused by the prospect of emergent competition on possibly multiple fronts. But the competition and innovation that could be stimulated by properly managing the upcoming auction would ultimately be a boon to consumers, either by radically altering the marketplace or forcing the titans out of their inertia.

So you know what to do: Fire up that email client (or snail mail) and send your favorite Congressmen a letter, telling them you're for free markets, innovation, American values, and all that jazz.

Forbes Column on Wireless Innovation [Tim Wu via Ars Technica]
Image via Flickr