FCC Concedes to Testing on Free Internet Plan

Amid pressure from T-Mobile and other carriers, commission agrees to conduct interference testing ahead of new spectrum auction.
Posted September 2, 2008

Kenneth Corbin

Bowing to requests from wireless carriers, the Federal Communications Commission has agreed to postpone its plans to move forward with a controversial initiative to create a family-friendly network that would provide free Internet access to nearly all Americans.

The tension arises from T-Mobile's claim, supported by its fellow carriers, that the spectrum the FCC would auction for the proposed network would interfere with transmissions on existing wireless networks.

"We're going to participate in some testing with T-mobile in Seattle to determine to what level there maybe interference before we proceed," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny told InternetNews.com. The trial will take place Sept. 3 through 5 at Boeing's test facility outside the city.

Julius Knapp, the chief engineer at the FCC's office of engineering and technology will conduct the trials with three other engineers from the commission, along with a contingent from T-Mobile. The FCC has not previously conducted its own testing.

Supporters of the plan, including FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, had previously argued that no further testing was needed, arguing against delays on the grounds that universal broadband access is a top national priority.

Required to provide free broadband

Under the plan, the winning bidder would be required to provide free broadband service to 50 percent of the country within four years, and 95 percent of the country within 10 years. The license would also require the network provider to install a filter to keep out pornography and other inappropriate content.

The spectrum in question is a 25 MHz block that sits in the 2.1 GHz block, known as Advanced Wireless Services 3 (AWS-3).

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.

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