Recommendations by Wu to Guide Key FCC Auction

Press Contact: Sonia von Gutfeld, 212-854-1453, [email protected]

January 24, 2008 – The Federal Communications Commission will hold a historic auction this week under rules first proposed by Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu. The government agency will begin accepting bids today for some of the nation’s most valuable airwaves, requiring the winners to adhere to “wireless Carterfone” principles that Wu recommended last year.

Under auction rules, wireless companies – which have traditionally restricted network usage – must keep the bandwidth open to any device that does not harm the network. This could include everything from better cell phones to devices not yet invented.

“This may spark a revolution in telecommunications,” Wu said.

Wu proposed opening the wireless network in a 2007 paper, “Wireless Net Neutrality: Cellular Carterfone and Consumer Choice in Mobile Broadband,” first published by the New America Foundation. Wireless carriers, which have limited their customers’ ability to use different cell phones and software, have restricted consumer choice and stifled innovation, Wu argued.

Wu had argued that the FCC’s Carterphone rules, which allow consumers to attach devices of their choice to wired telephone networks, should extend to the wireless world.

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps lauded Wu’s paper in a statement about the broadband auction issued on July 31, 2007.

The 700 MHz spectrum, which will become available when television switches from analog to digital in February 2009, is prime broadband real estate. Auction winners will be able to send signals that carry large amounts of data, travel through walls, and reach wider areas.

Companies expected to bid include Verizon, AT&T and Google. The FCC will post daily bids on the Web site

Wu, a leading authority of telecommunications law, frequently speaks on technology issues in the media and before Congress. He is the co-author of Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World (Oxford University Press, 2006) and a regular contributor to Slate magazine. Wu previously worked in the telecommunications industry in Silicon Valley, and was a law clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer.

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.