The FCC is reportedly considering a plan to auction off more airwaves, this time with the stipulation that the winner would provide free broadband Internet access to the whole country. A tall order considering the winning bidder would be paying for the right to build a national wireless network and then paying to provide free service to millions of Americans.
The airwaves in question are a 25 MHz block, and the commission would require that at least a portion of the airwaves be set aside for free Internet access. The winning bidder would have four years to build out its network to at least 50% of the population and within 10 years would be required to reach 95% of the United States population.
So far, no part of the commission’s plan explaining how a company would fund this effort has been reported. Skeptics also have cited that most major wireless providers have just refreshed their spectrum holdings at the commission’s most recent auction, or through acquisitions. These objections, however, do not rule out that some companies would still be interested.
Startup M2Z Networks proposed a similar plan to the FCC last year, only it wanted the spectrum for free. The company hoped it could pay for the expense of building the network through advertising dollars and selling subscriptions for consumers who wanted faster service. M2Z also offered to pay the U.S. Treasury 5% of its revenue for use of the airwaves.