FCC To Kill Plan For Free Broadband

The FCC is close to rejecting a proposal that could have blanketed the U.S. in free wireless broadband, WSJ reports ($). The plan was floated by a Silicon Valley company called M2Z Networks, whose chief John Muleta was formerly head of the FCC’s wireless bureau. M2Z proposed that the government give the company 25 MHz of vacant wireless spectrum, with which it would build out a broadband network across the U.S., aiming to serve 95% of the country’s population within 10 years. The company would give 5% of revenue to the government and would offer free access to public safety departments.

Sound a bit idealistic? It is. The FCC has received complaints for the way it has handled auctions in the past, but very few of them were about the fact that they generate billions in revenue for the government. Plenty of companies would spend plenty of money for this spectrum — see Google’s excitement about next year’s FCC spectrum auction — so why give it away in exchange for future revenue the government may never see? This is a non-starter.