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FCC Chair Kevin Martin has proposed dropping the content-filtering requirement attached to the AWS band, in the hope that someone will build a network if they're not required to remove all the pornography.

The proposal, which was revealed in a call to Ars Technica, suggests the successful bidder for the Advanced Wireless Services 3 (AWS-3) band be relieved of the obligation to provide content filtering to the free 768Kb/sec service they are obliged to provide as part of the spectrum licence. Commissioners could vote on the issue as early as January 15th, if Martin can drum up some support for the idea.

AWS-3, which runs from 2155MHz to 2180MHz, is intended to be auctioned off to anyone prepared to meet national roll-out targets of half the US population within four years, and 95 per cent within a decade. The auction winner will have to provide free broadband, and allow any device to connect to the network, but will be able to charge for premium services that could now include content filtering for concerned parents and the like.

Finding the money to build a national network will be tough in today's economic climate, especially when none of the incumbent operators are likely to offer assistance in terms of shared sites or radio mapping, but that pales into insignificance when compared to finding a content filtering service that is acceptable across America. Even without the filtering requirement it's hard to see who's got the money to splash on building a free network that will instantly become clogged with BitTorrent users preserving their paid-for bandwidth.

Not to mention all those digital have-nots who discover that 786Kb/sec is perfectly adequate for downloading pornography, the purveyors of which could be the only people to gain from America's free wireless plan, other than Google of course.

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