Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FCC wants free broadband service, plus content filtering

An arstechnica article reports that the Federal Communications Commission is looking for a bidder to provide nationwide free broadband service. A spokesperson for the Commission has told Ars that the FCC wants it to include "content filters."

The service would utilize 1.9 GHz-2.1 GHz bands, agency Chair Kevin Martin told reporters on Friday. The data will have to download at a minimum of 768 kilobits, Martin said, provided at a "pretty aggressive" build out schedule: Half the United States population must be able to access it after four years, and 95% by the time the license comes up for renewal. The agency will make available about 25 Megahertz of spectrum for this in an Advanced Wireless Services auction (AWS-3)—details to be disclosed in a Report and Order unveiled at the Commission's open meeting scheduled for June 12th.

A company called M2Z has had a proposal in for something like this for some time. It was turned down last September by the FCC for lack of a competitive bid. However one has now appeared from a company called NetfreeUS. The new proposal, in contrast to the centralized nature of M2Z's plan, would lease the spectrum to cities, entrepreneurs, and other groups. Collectively, they would make the band open on a "private commons" basis to peer-to-peer and device-to-device communicators. The plan has received an endorsement from Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ).

The ars article notes that, while other spectrum bidders consider both plans a landgrab fraught with problems, in April 2007 Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Rep. Christopher Cannon (R- UT) introduced the Wireless Internet Nationwide for Families Act (H.R. 5846) which would mandate such a service.


Timothy Karr said...

Hi Joly and Gale.

I have testified before Councilwoman Brewer on Net Neutrality in the past and am now writing a story about America's failing report card on providing broadband access to all its citizens.

I have a question for you: Are there any neighborhoods in New York City where wired broadband access is not available?

I'd like to interview some people from these communities as part of a national profile of people who are "off the grid."

Please contact me at tkarr (at) freepress (dot) net .

Thanks so much,"

Tim Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press
SavetheInternet.com Coalition

joly@punkcast.com said...

Hi Tim,

At the hearings there has been some testimony to the effect that ceratin areas, particularly non-residential ones, have no access beyond dial-up. However circumstances are changing all the time. An example would be Luis Rivera of the Brooklyn SWIDC.

In the NYCBAC briefing there are details of a study the City commissioned on the state of access. -
"The New York City Economic Development Corporation released a RFP on June 14, 2006, for a Broadband Feasibility Study to "deliver a thorough, objective, fact-based feasibility study of the current state of broadband in New York City and to explore whether there is a need for a citywide broadband network as a municipal initiative and whether such would be legally, technically, practicably and economically feasible for New York City." In September, the City selected, through a competitive bidding process, a private firm named Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, to conduct the study."

As far as I know the results of that study have not been released.