AWS-3 Approved For Free Nationwide Internet Despite T-Mobile's Complaints

By October 15, 2008

The Federal Communications Commission approval of the sale of spectrum in the AWS-3 band means another step has been taken toward a nationwide wireless Internet network.  An exhaustive report released by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology on Friday, "Advanced Wireless Interference Test Results and Analysis," determined that "AWS-3 devices could operate… without a significant risk of harmful interference." This debunks the earlier claim by mobile carrier T-Mobile that utilizing AWS-3 would interfere with its own service on the neighboring AWS-1 band. The company previously submitted test results that interference would occur which were controversial previous to the FCC report release and completely invalidated in September. The unrealistic parameters given by T-Mobile's study showed that not only would AWS-3 interfere with service, so would Bluetooth headsets and microwave ovens.

With the band finally available despite industry opposition, a company such as Silicon Valley-based M2Z Networks can begin to bid for the right to implement the Commission plan to provide free broadband for fifty percent of the US population in the next four years, and 95 percent in the next ten years. The FCC proposal also includes 768 kbps service and content protection for children. The protection mechanism will filter out obscene or pornographic material, determined by "contemporary community standards." The report includes a footnote that the specific technology to implement these features of the plan has not yet been determined.

The Commission plan also includes a business model for paid premium services as well as advertising in the free network. "The winning bidder must provide at least 25 [percent] of the band's capacity to free broadband service," but the remaining 75 percent can be the fee-based service. The content filter must apply to both services, and a portion of revenue will be paid to the United States Treasury.

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