FCC's Free Internet Debate Postponed

FCC Chairman's Kevin Martin's free Internet access proposal won't be discussed at least until Julygiving the wireless carriers who oppose the plan more time to derail it. It seems likely the carriers will fight it tooth-and-nail.

Martin basically wants to auction off a piece of wireless spectrum, with the winning bidder bound to use some of that spectrum to provide "basic" free broadband service to 95 percent of the nation within 10 years. One hangup: "obscene" content would have to be filtered out. (The rest of the auctioned spectrum would be used for commercial services.)

It's a great idea (despite the silly filtering rule) that would dramatically change this nation's comparatively poor broadband access rates. And if adopted it is sure to propel the sale and use of smartphones, PDA's, small "netbooks" and other wireless devices. And it could end up pushing unified communications forward, a technology that gaining more attention and focus in the channel. A free, wireless broadband network would set a competitive standard for other carriers and service providers to meet (and no doubt exceed, as part of their pay model.) It would also eliminate a lot of the uncertainty in boradband access that currently exists. And it surely would herald in a broad assortment of new wireless applications that channel partners would likely develop and market.


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