M2Z Wants FCC To Decide On Countrywide Wi-Fi

By Steve West 2007-08-17 00:00:27
There’s just no way that you would enjoy having free wireless Internet access. Lucky for you the FCC has your back, as a proposal to deny a plan for just that type of service has been passed around by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. The problem with what M2Z Networks Inc, a startup headed by former FCC Chief of Wireless Bureau John Muleta, is suggesting is that it goes against a ruling from a decade ago that decreed that unused portions of spectrum should be auctioned off.

M2Z Networks proposed to the FCC that the currently vacant 25 megahertz of the spectrum be used to provide wireless broadband to 95% of the country within the decade. The company wants to sell off the spectrum on a wholesale basis, a proposal that Google unsuccessfully backed for the upcoming auction of the 700-megahertz spectrum. M2Z would return 5% of their gross revenue to the Treasury, and use the rest to build the infrastructure for a countrywide free wireless service.

The plan has the backing of investors, leaders in the industry, and even a few lawmakers. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal Represantive Anna Eshoo of California stated, ”Every American should have access to high-speed broadband Internet service.” Of course they should, and while certain rules are in place there is no reason why a plan like this should be closed off. Lobby group for the wireless industry, CTIA, has urged the FCC to make a decision on the proposal immediately. They claim that the proposal would go against the FCC’s auction process. In other words, the big companies that pay for lobbyists could lose money and that wouldn’t be good for anyone. That is except every single person living in the country who doesn’t run a major wireless company.

M2Z would offer the service itself free of charge, but there would be ads. Oh yeah, consumers would have to purchase a reception device that could cost around $200. Still, that’s not too bad of a deal for countrywide coverage. The service would offer 384Kbps download and 128Kbps up, which would place it at the very low end of broadband access. M2Z had expected a decision within one year of their initial filing of the proposal, which would have been in early May. The FCC claims that the deadline is actually September 1st due to a subsequent filing by the company. It seems that M2Z is ready to take the issue to the courts and have them decide our wireless access fate.
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