Free Wireless Broadband Gets A Boost

Despite the objections of large service providers, a plan for a free, advertiser-supported national broadband network is gaining steam. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin backed the proposal, which would use a large chunk of spectrum that is soon to be freed up, earlier this year.

Now the FCC has found that using that spectrum won't interfere with existing wireless networks operating on adjacent frequencies, which had been a concern raised by service providers operating wireless networks. One startup company, M2Z Networks, has proposed going forward with the free plan.

It's time to move ahead with the free wireless proposal, which would essentially create a national broadband wireless network in the U.S. It would provide badly needed Internet access to rural areas and provide  beneficial competition to wireless service providers whose currently service, frankly, leaves a lot to be desired. It would spark innovation in new wireless apps. And the plan would also help fulfill a commitment made (and largely ignored) by the Bush Administration eight years ago to expand broadband access across the country. The commercial carriers argue that the free model, supported by advertising, will fail commercially. Perhaps, but it's well worth a try.

Broadband access is a necessity, not a privilege, and the government should do what it can to make it available to the entire population. Commercial providers will differentiate themselves through faster network speeds and improved applications. The FCC should move forward with the free Internet plan as quickly as possible.

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