updated 11:05 am EDT, Mon October 13, 2008
FCC Approves Free Inet
The FCC has approved the technical details of frequencies for free long-range broadband, a new report (PDF) states. The government body's testing has concluded that there is a minimal risk at best of interference with the particular Advanced Wireless Spectrum frequencies used by the technology. Critics, including cell carrier T-Mobile, had previously tried to dissuade the FCC by asserting that compatible hardware would disrupt their own networks.
Officials have yet to set the formal rules for any new wireless service but have so far proposed a no-cost, country-wide system that would be filtered to remove obscene content, similar to the approaches used to distinguish most free TV from paid cable and satellite subscriptions. At least half of the US should be reached by any future network within four years of service starting and reach 95 percent of the population within ten years, the FCC has said.
The new frequency bands should become available to use in early 2009 and should result in practical service shortly after an auction.
Proponents, which include Google, Microsoft and aspiring provider M2Z Networks, have advocated the creation of free and universal mobile broadband to encourage Internet access outside of Wi-Fi without having to turn to paid carriers, many of whom lock customers to particular devices and limit choices in software.