Don’t look now, but the FCC, in an unusually egalitarian move, may require the winner of an upcoming spectrum auction to give away free, wireless Internet access. A June 12 meeting will determine the rules of an upcoming auction, with one of the bandied-about provisions being that the winner must provide at least 50 percent of the country (well, the population) with free, wireless broadband within five year of winning the auction. Within 10 years, 95 percent of the country would have to be covered in wireless broadband.
There’s precedent for this type of thinking. M2Z Networks offered to give away wireless broadband two years ago in exchange for spectrum; it was to give the FCC 5 percent of its advertising earnings as part of the deal. The FCC balked, saying that it couldn’t dole out spectrum without having a proper auction. So because of a technicality, we’re still without nationwide, wireless broadband.