M2Z: FCC Closes Door On Free Broadband Proposal

Networks, which has been proposing a free, nationwide wireless broadband
service, says the FCC has informed it that it has terminated its AWS-3 "public
interest" rulemaking, thus putting the kibosh on M2Z's petition to create
the service.

whose backers include Charles River Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Redpoint
Ventures, had petitioned the FCC back in 2006 to create the service.

Chairman Kevin Martin had proposed that an auction of the advanced wireless
services (AWS) spectrum include a condition that some of it be used for a free
lifeline broadband service. But there was pushback, including from the Bush
administration, that such a condition would discourage bidders.

its national broadband plan, the FCC is proposing going ahead with the AWS-3
spectrum auction as part of an effort to free up 500 Mhz of spectrum for
commercial wireless broadband.

new nationwide broadband entrant that provided a free broadband service would
have created tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs throughout the
country while giving all Americans an equal opportunity to participate in the
digital economy," said M2Z CEO John Muleta in response to the FCC move.

"We gave careful and
thorough consideration to the proposal, but ultimately determined that this was
not the best policy outcome," said Wireless Bureau Chief Ruth Milkman in
an e-mailed statement. "We remain vigilant in our efforts to facilitate
the universal deployment and adoption of broadband, especially through the
much-needed reform to the Universal Service Fund."

CTIA-The Wireless Association President and CEO Steve Largent released the following statement in response to the FCC's decision to close the AWS-3 proceeding:  

"We were pleased to learn that the FCC is closing the AWS-3 proceeding and will continue to focus on finding a proper pairing for the spectrum," said Largent. "Contrary to M2Z's statements,  this is absolutely in line with the National Broadband Plan. It is an important step as it supports the efforts by the FCC, Congress and the White House to bring additional spectrum to market so the wireless ecosystem can continue to provide our consumers with the most innovative industry in the world."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.