FCC considers auctioning spectrum for free wireless Internet

By on May 29, 2008, 5:01 PM
In an effort to increase US citizens’ access to broadband Internet, the FCC is reportedly mulling the possibility of another spectrum auction, but would require the winner to offer free wireless Internet service across a large portion of the country within the next few years.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has scheduled a June 12 vote on rules for an auction of 25 MHz of largely unused wireless spectrum – referred to as the AWS-III band, for Advanced Wireless Services. Details of the plan still have to be worked out, though using this slice of the airwaves for free broadband is hardly a new idea.

Back in 2006, a startup known as M2Z Networks asked the FCC if it could plant a free, ad-supported wireless network on the 25MHz band – without actually bidding for a license in an auction – in exchange for a 5 percent cut of its future revenue. However, the FCC’s current proposal would simply auction the spectrum to the highest bidder and require that a portion of the network be set aside for free use, though Internet traffic would inevitably face content restrictions to prevent users from viewing content deemed unacceptable by regulators.

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