Company Says FCC Blocking Free Broadband

A company that is aiming to bring free broadband to the entire US is being blocked by the Federal Communications Commission, its CEO claimed Wednesday.

M2Z Networks now plans to take the FCC to court over the rejection, apparently claiming the agency has not given the idea a fair study to determine its viability. M2Z's plans call for vacant radio spectrum to be used to provide high-speed Internet service to 95 percent of Americans within 10 years.

The company will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to order the FCC to make a "public interest determination" of M2Z's proposal, which has been with the agency for over a year. The company claims that regulations required the FCC to respond by May 5.

"We strongly believe that the FCC should fully and fairly review the detailed record associated with M2Z's license application and its forbearance petition and make a decision consistent with the law Congress enacted," M2Z regulatory chief Uzoma Onyeije.

The law to which Onyeije refers is Section 7 of the Communications Act. This states that the FCC must, within one year of receiving a petition or application regarding it, determine whether a new technology or service is in the public's interest.

Comments on the petition have largely been in favor of M2Z's plans, although it has been rumored that the FCC was in the process of preparing to deny the company's petition. The agency could have solid reasoning in its denial.

Regulations currently require the FCC to sell any spectrum at auction, whereas the M2Z petition essentially asks the agency to hand it over at no cost. In exchange, five percent of revenues would be handed over to the US Treasury.

Also opposed to the plan are traditional telecommunications companies, who likely see the M2Z network as a serious threat to their hold on high-speed Internet services.

While its basis would be free service, a premium option would also be made available which would cost about $20-30 per month. M2Z says this would generally be faster than current cable or DSL offerings.

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