Scott Bradner, Network World June 05, 2008 02:41 PM ET
The FCC chairman has floated a proposal that would result in a free nationwide — but censored — Wi-Fi Internet service, according to a recent news reports. Kevin Martin's proposal is to try again to auction off some of the spectrum that failed to garner the required minimum bid during the recent auction. The likelihood that this will happen seems to be quite low, but the proposal does demonstrate an impressive single-mindedness on the part of the FCC chair.
The FCC is just about finished with yet another demonstration of short-sightedness (this time mandated by Congress). It collected more than $19 billion in bids for spectrum to be freed up by the move to all digital broadcast TV. (See "FCC hauls in $19.6 billion for 700MHz auction".)
This, of course, is $19 billion that will not be available to build out the services to use the spectrum and, thus, a $19 billion tax inefficiently gathered by the carriers, on the eventual users of the services. This is a lot of money, but not enough to also sell off the "D Block" of spectrum that was to be shared with public-safety users. So the FCC has to try again to auction off this chunk of spectrum.