FCC report clears free nationwide wireless plan

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The dream of free nationwide wireless came a bit closer to reality today, after the FCC released a report which states that providing wireless over the 2155-2180MHz spectrum would not interfere with service from other wireless carriers. This clears the way for the FCC to move forward with a plan to auction off airwaves to a bidder who agrees to offer free (albeit ad-supported) national wireless Internet service.

The decision is a blow to the telecoms, specifically T-Mobile, which is keen to protect revenue from its own wireless networks and had raised concerns that the service would disrupt the company’s 3G wireless network. The next step is to create rules for the new network, and then auction off the spectrum sometime in the first half of next year.

It could be a while before proposed network actually materializes, however. The free nationwide wireless service would have to reach 50 percent of the U.S. population in four years and 95 percent within a decade. It remains to be seen if anyone will be tempted to bid for the spectrum and then pony up millions of dollars in infrastructure.

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