Martin Praises Open Platform for Mobile Devices

Open Handset Alliance Includes Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Google, Intel, eBay

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin Tuesday praised the Open Handset Alliance and its plans to create an open platform for mobile devices.

The chairman made openness to third-party devices and applications a condition of bidding on a block of the former TV spectrum being reclaimed in the switch to digital and scheduled for auction in January.

"I was pleased to hear the announcement by the Open Handset Alliance of the plans to introduce an open platform for mobile devices," he said in a statement Tuesday. "As I noted when we adopted open-network rules for our upcoming spectrum auction, I continue to believe that more openness -- at the network, device, or application level – helps to foster innovation and enhances consumers’ freedom and choice in purchasing wireless service."

The alliance includes at least two major mobile carriers, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, which will open their networks to outside devices, as well as computer companies Google, Intel, eBay and various others that want to create and end-to-end platform open to outside applications and devices.

Handsets effectively bundled with service -- AT&T and Apple’s iPhone, for example -- have been the rule of the road for wireless networks, but Martin has been looking to prompt competition in advanced wireless services.

Google has been contemplating bidding for spectrum in the FCC auction to help create an open network, but would it still need to with the moves by Sprint and T-Mobile? A Google spokesman said its participation in the alliance does not affect the decision to bid "one way or the other," adding that no decision has yet been made.