FCC's vision of free wireless Internet for everyone in jeopardy

Municipal Wi-Fi has not caught on in the U.S.; it was believed that this sort of wireless internet service could be used to provide connectivity to people in a city or portions of a city. Part of the issue surrounding municipal Wi-Fi and notable failures is that the signal had issues getting inside homes and businesses and speeds weren't fast enough for many users.

Despite the failure of many municipal Wi-Fi networks, the FCC has been considering a plan that would provide a nationwide wireless internet access system that would give access for free. The core of the plan revolves around auctioning a 25MHz slice of spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band.

Part of the stipulation on the FCC auction of the bandwidth would be that the winner of the auction uses a portion of it to provide the free nationwide internet access. The goal is to provide internet access to Americans who either can’t afford broadband access or don’t want to pay for it.

Lawmakers, citizens, and wireless providers are coming down on both sides of the plan, but the Bush Administration has come out against the plan for free internet access. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin this week that expressed the Bush Administration's opposition to the FCCs plans for free Internet access.

The plan for auctioning the bandwidth and free access for Americans is set to be voted on as early as next week reports CNET News. The Wall Street Journal offered portions of the letter in a recent story: "The (Bush) administration believes that the (airwaves) should be auctioned without price or product mandate. The history of FCC spectrum auctions has shown that the potential for problems increases in instances where licensing is overly prescriptive or designed around unproven business models."

An FCC representative acknowledged that the FCC had received the letter and told The Wall Street Journal, "We agree that market forces should help drive competition, but we also believe that providing free basic broadband to consumers is a good thing."

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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