The Dawn of Free Internet Access?


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FCC plans to offer national free wireless Internet access got a boost on Friday when the Federal Communications Commission released a report stating that the plan would not interfere with service from other wireless carriers.

This would be lifeline broadband service . . . that would be designed for lower-income people who may not otherwise have access to the Internet.
FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin

The FCC plans to auction off a chunk of airwaves to a carrier who will set aside some of the space for free national Internet access. The costs will be offset by advertising and a subscription-based plan for consumers willing to pay for faster access.

Telecom carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are understandably upset about the potential loss of revenue that they receive charging customers for Internet access. They claim that the plan will disrupt service for their customers and that the FCC favors M2Z Networks Inc., a Kleiner Perkins-backed start-up that originally broached the free-Internet plan two years ago, in the auction.

The decision is a blow to the telecoms, as the FCC could begin auctioning off the airwaves as soon as the first quarter of 2009. The proposed network would have to reach 50 percent of the U.S. population in four years and 95 percent within a decade.

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