We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. — Network
The FCC was going to consider auctioning off 25 megahertz at 2155-2180 MHz at its next meeting on June 12 (pdf). The proposal would offer free Internet access across the United States, to the highest bidder. The FCC developed the plan based on proposals from several companies including M2Z Networks, Commnet Wireless, NextWave Broadband and others.
But the FCC’s main “constituents” — the big cellular carriers — have laid down the law. Martin has now removed the proposal from his agenda to “look into concerns raised by some wireless carriers.”
“The proposal upends two decades of spectrum policy in favor of a specially tailored auction designed to advance the particular business model of a single company. Moreover, this business plan — including free broadband — has a track record of failure.”
“The chairman remains committed to advancing a proposal that will provide a broadband lifeline for Americans who currently do not have Internet access on what would be a portion of the band that would provide that service for free,” said an FCC spokesman. Martin insists the delay is to give “people a little more time to consider this,” and that he’s “still anxious” for the FCC to go forward with the auction.
The FCC first sought comment on its proposal last September and since then many companies have filed their opinions on the idea. Existing operators are typically opposed to the idea since it means that their services would have to compete with a free offering.
- A $99 settop box might provide a dozen free DVB-SH channels via ICO/Clearwire with medium resolution TV, Dish Network’s 700 MHz DVB-SH service, or Nextwave’s MXtv.
- Internet access could be supplied “free” via Clearwire Mobile WiMax or the 2155MHz band – using Microsoft’s Sideguide.
- Skype provides free phone service.
Television broadcasters are given our airwaves. Free. Like a Communist State.
The unlicensed Wi-Fi band also generates no revenue for The Treasury. But now Intel, the largest proponent of universal broadband, also has some skin in the game. That could make a strong consumer-oriented lobby for “free” broadband access less likely.
That’s the free market. We don’t have it.
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