FCC considering spectrum for free wireless broadband

The FCC may release spectrum for "free or very low-cost" wireless broadband service to boost wider broadband adoption. The proposal is one small part of the commission's national broadband plan, which it will formally present to Congress March 17.

The commission did not offer details about the proposal, including how it will be funded and how many people it will impact. The commission has been dribbling out information about the plan in advance of its release, and increased spectrum for wireless broadband is a key part of the plan.

The agency last month outlined an effort it said could free up 500 MHz of spectrum over the next decade for mobile broadband use. The plan would allow current spectrum licensees, including broadcasters, to voluntarily give up spectrum in exchange for a share of auction proceeds. A separate part of the FCC's broadband plan calls on Congress to allocate $12 billion to $16 billion over 10 years to help build an interoperable, pubic-safety broadband network.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski repeatedly has acknowledged the need to free up more spectrum for mobile broadband. "Spectrum--our airwaves--really is the oxygen of mobile broadband service," he said in a speech in February. "Without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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