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Posted by on Dec 1, 2008 in At TMV | 10 comments

Free Nationwide Porn-Free Wireless Web?

Despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer groups, the WSJ says outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing a plan to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans:

The proposal to allow a no-smut, free wireless Internet service is part of a proposal to auction off a chunk of airwaves. The winning bidder would be required to set aside a quarter of the airwaves for a free Internet service. The winner could establish a paid service that would have a fast wireless Internet connection. The free service could be slower and would be required to filter out pornography and other material not suitable for children. The FCC’s proposal mirrors a plan offered by M2Z Networks Inc., a start-up backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr.

Consumer advocates have objected to the FCC’s proposed pornography filter, while the wireless industry has objected to the entire free Internet plan. To address concerns about the filter, the FCC is proposing that adults could opt out and access all Internet sites.

Stacey Higginbotham says T-Mobile won’t be happy:

This upcoming meeting could create free, licensed wireless spectrum in the AWS-3 band, ticking off T-Mobile, which paid $4 billion to lease the adjacent AWS-1 spectrum…. Originally, the FCC had talked about filtering that free wireless network to rid it of objectionable content for everyone, but in October, when the FCC issued a report saying that such a network wouldn’t interfere with T-Mobile’s network, a spokesman for the regulatory agency said the filtering provisions would only be aimed at children. That could stop some consumer advocates from protesting the FCC actions, but it won’t stop T-Mobile, which shows no signs of backing down, even though its efforts to stop the proposal on the grounds that it will interfere with the T-Mobile network have failed.

I’ll be surprised if anything much comes of this.

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