Feeds

FCC free wireless scheme trapped in lobby limbo

Interference hits 'lifeline broadband'

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The US Federal Communications Commission has backed off its plan for a free nationwide wireless broadband network. For the moment.

As we reported last month, the commission was set to vote on this free wireless idea at its June 12th meeting. But after complaints over proposed content filters and possible interference issues, FCC boss Kevin Martin has told the Associated Press the vote is off.

He hopes to resuscitate the plan later this summer. "I want to be clear that I am still very supportive of the cause of providing a lifeline broadband service across the country," he told AP.

This support is relatively new. In May 2006, a Silicon Valley startup known as M2Z Networks asked the commission if it could plant a free ad-driven wireless network on a largely unused slice of the US airwaves known as the AWS-III band, for Advanced Wireless Services. Martin and the FCC sat on this proposal for 15 months, before rejecting it. M2Z actually sued the commission for dawdling - and the suit is still pending.

Then, at some point, Martin took a liking to the M2Z plan.

According to our conversation with the FCC last week, Kev is now pretty much in step with the Menlo Park, California startup. M2Z proposed content filters. And that's what Martin is proposing. M2Z said it would reach 50 per cent of the US population over the next four years and 95 per cent over the next ten. And that is now Martin's timetable. But he won't license spectrum to M2Z - or anyone else - without an open auction. And this will extend beyond the AWS-III band (2155-2175 MHz on the US dial) to the AWS-II band (2175-2180).

If Martin's plan goes through. He's pulled back again.

According to AP, Martin has delayed the June 12 vote because various free speech advocates complained about the content filters and various cell phone operators complained about interference. There are other complaints as well.

Last week, as eWeek points out, the entire CTIA wireless association filed a fresh complaint about the plan, arguing that auctions built around a single business plan are doomed to fail. And The Wall Street Journal weighed in with a hard-hitting editorial that said much the same thing.

Last year, when it set up auction rules for the so-called 700-MHz D Block, The Journal says, the FCC "rigged" things in favor a single company with a gift for the Washington lobby: Frontline Wireless. Frontline soon went titsup - before the auction. And The Journal argues that Martin is about to repeat himself.

It certainly appears that some M2Z lobbying has worked a little magic since the FCC rejected the company's initial complaint. But in recent weeks, lobbying from the other side has worked some magic of its own. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.