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The FCC is planning to auction 25 megahertz in the 2155-2180 MHz band to the highest bidder, reports RCR News. Chairman Martin said that a licensee winner of the 2155-2180 MHz spectrum (referred to as the AWS III band), would have to provide a free service tier, and would have to reach 50% of the population in four years and 95% of the population by the end of the license term.

The FCC will vote on rules for this auction in mid-June.

In 2007 the FCC denied a request (pdf) by M2Z Networks to provide a similar free wireless broadband service. M2Z, however, wanted the FCC to provide them exclusive use of the spectrum at no cost, in exchange for 5% off the top from revenues generated by advertising and subsciber revenues (for faster service). The company promised to offer 384kbps “free” and a 3Mbps tier for $20-$30/month.

There have been other proposals to utilize the band:

M2Z Networks, challenged the FCC’s action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking them to overturn the agency’s dismissal (pdf) of M2Z’s wireless plan. But their appeal was dismissed.

M2Z said the agency violated numerous laws in throwing out its proposal to provide free, family-friendly broadband service in the 2155-2175 MHz band. Another aspect of the M2Z Networks plan, notes MRT Magazine, is that public-safety entities would be given priority access to the network.

The FCC is not considering making the band truly free — like WiFi. Interference might be avoided using the same approach as the FCC’s 3650 Mhz band rules — a quasi-licensed band that requires only a small registration fee. DailyWireless expands on this approach at Free 2155-2175 MHz!.

Municipal wireless — using 2150 Mhz — could be faster, cheaper and more reliable than WiFi:

If the range of 2150 Mhz WiMAX averages 3.5 miles (similar to 2.6 Mhz WiMAX), then each antenna tower might cover 10 sq miles. A 100 sq mile city might only need 10 towers. Each tower might require about $50K in gear, or $500K total.

Municipal WiFi networks typically costs $100K+ per sq mile ($10M) for the same 100 sq mile coverage with WiFi because they require 30-40 nodes per sq mile, plus lots of backhaul gear.

Do the math.

Related DailyWireless stories include; Free 2155-2175 MHz!, Bill to Free 2155-2180 Mhz, M2Z Vrs FCC, Equal Access Happy Talk, Broadband Wireless — Hello Goodbye, Frontline: Rumble in the Jungle, The OTHER Public Safety Band, Public Service Moves to 800Mhz, FCC Hangs Up Free M2Z Service, 2.1GHz for MuniFi?, and M2Z: Free Internet Now!, Pipeline Wireless: We’re 3.65 GHz, FCC: Go For 3.65GHz, Airspan, Free 3.65GHz Mapping Service, Who the MuniFi MAN?, WiMAX: No Satellite Interference says WARC, Intel’s Rural Connectivity Platform, Airspan Gets FCC Nod for 3.65 GHz, Pipeline Wireless: We’re 3.65 GHz, FCC: Go For 3.65GHz, Airspan, Free 3.65GHz Mapping Service, Who the MuniFi MAN?, WiMAX: No Satellite Interference says WARC, Intel’s Rural Connectivity Platform, Airspan Gets FCC Nod for 3.65 GHz, 3.65 GHz Gets Real, FCC: Non-exclusive 3.6GHz Licensing and 3.65 GHz Gets Real.

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