Congresswoman proposes free wireless broadband

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is introducing new legislation, known as the Wireless International Nationwide for Families Act, that would direct the FCC to auction unused spectrum, the 2155 MHz to 2180MHz band, and require the winner to offer a free wireless broadband network that reaches 95 percent of the U.S. population within 10 years.

Sound familiar? Her initiative sounds eerily similar to what M2Z Networks has been petitioning the FCC to do. In 2006, the company asked the FCC for 25 megahertz of vacant spectrum in the 2155 MHz to 2175 MHz band to offer free wireless broadband service. The FCC subsequently dismissed M2Z's request.

Eshoo evidently had conversations with M2Z but her motivation was "primarily to provide alternative means of broadband access for more Americans, and this fallow spectrum seemed to be a real opportunity," her aids claim. Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads a House telecommunications and Internet panel, and Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) have signed on as co-sponsors.

The proposal calls for the winning network operator to:

  • start offering "always-on" wireless broadband service within two years of receiving the license;
  • offer free service to consumers and "authorized public safety users;"
  • make sure the service offers at least 200 kbps transmission speeds in at least one direction (Is that really broadband?)
  • include "a technology protection measure or measures that protect underage users from accessing obscene or indecent material through such service;" and
  • offer royalty-free standards so that others can develop and deploy equipment that can operate on the network

To read more about the free wireless broadband proposal:
- check out this Cnet report