White House opposes FCC’s plan for free, nationwide wireless broadband

After the whole controversy over the usage of the White Space spectrum had been given the thumbs up by the FCC, we thought that free, nationwide wireless Internet access was a given. Not so fast says the White House. The FCC was going to vote as early as next week on a plan to auction 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band. According to the FCC’s plan, those who purchase a license to use this spectrum would be required to offer free wireless broadband service. The White House disagreed with the requirement that licensees had to offer free service and voiced its objection in a letter written by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez saying:

“The administration believes that the (airwaves) should be auctioned without price or product mandate. The history of FCC spectrum auctions has shown that the potential for problems increases in instances where licensing is overly prescriptive or designed around unproven business models.”

The FCC is reportedly reviewing the letter and has publicly stated that, though it does agree that “market forces should drive competition”, it also believes “providing free basic broadband to consumers is a good thing.” Perhaps the White House is considering how well the free market system is working in every other industry these days when making this assessment…

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