The FCC will start conducting tests this week on a portion of radio spectrum, specifically 2155MHz to 2180MHz. The attempt is to determine if equipment transmitting on these frequencies pose an interference risk to incumbents in nearby bands, primarily T-Mobile. T-Mobile claims they are fearful that any services using those frequencies would be detrimental to their own services, which they paid a substantial amount for. Protecting their investment is a good idea, though some have argued that T-Mobile is simply trying to stifle any competition that might crop up – particularly if the FCC is able to go forward with their plan for the spectrum.
That plan, once again, is free public wireless Internet access. The idea is that the spectrum will be auctioned off relatively cheaply compared to normal licenses, with the contention that the winner must use at least part of the spectrum to provide free wireless Internet.
This is not a new concept – and many providers have tried and failed to deliver similar services in the past, though never on a nationwide scope. The difficulties behind such a task are immense, ranging from technical issues in delivering service to the cost of putting equipment into the field. They also face the numerous providers, such as T-Mobile and Verizon, who have been opposed to free Wi-Fi in the past.