Free Wireless For All? Don't Make Me Laugh - InformationWeek

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8/20/2007
04:24 PM
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Free Wireless For All? Don't Make Me Laugh

Hey, did you hear the one about the company that wanted to provide free wireless for all? The FCC is putting the kibosh on their plans. Shocking, right?

Hey, did you hear the one about the company that wanted to provide free wireless for all? The FCC is putting the kibosh on their plans. Shocking, right?The way Search Engine Land explains it, a company, M2Z Networks "wants to build a wireless broadband ISP using vacant wireless spectrum to provide free Internet access with national reach. The company would potentially make money as a wholesaler, reselling access to others in addition to providing direct access to consumers."

The company is quoted in Free Press as saying that "within 10 years the service would be free to 95 percent of Americans, and the plan is backed by a number of venture capitalists and lawmakers."

According to Free Press, in order for the plan to work, M2Z would need to take a currently vacant 25 megahertz of spectrum to create the wireless broadband Internet network. This would to be released by the FCC, which apparently usually sells it off at auction. But in return, M2Z would return five percent of revenue to the U.S. Treasury.

Sounds like one of those win-win-win situations we all love hearing about, right? Some people save money, some people make money and no one is beholden to the Internet access companies anymore.

Not so fast. The FCC doesn't like the plan.

Why? Search Engine Land sees it thus: "If you're not cynical and skeptical of the FCC's motivations, you see the agency's reported position as simply consistent with its established policy. If you are, you see it as a move to protect the revenues of telcos and cable companies that make millions off consumers by providing Internet access. This plan (among others) would threaten those revenues presumably."

Presumably? How about definitely? Looks like we'll paying for our Internet access for a long time.

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