FCC's Martin: Free Broadband for Everyone

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Washington - Aug 25, 2008 - FCC Chairman Kevin Martin now says high-speed Internet access is so important to the welfare of U.S. consumers that the country can’t afford not to offer it free of charge to everyone. In an USA Today article, Martin said that there is a social obligation in making sure everyone can participate in the next generation of broadband services.

Facing opposition from mobile phone providers, Martin hopes to use spectrum due to be auctioned next year. He says that it's important for the FCC to find ways to meet the consumer demand for greater access to the Internet and wireless technologies. By attaching a free broadband condition to the sale of the AWS-3 (advanced wireless services-3) spectrum, Martin hopes to increase broadband adoption in rural areas in particular. He says that only 25 percent of network capacity would have to be reserved for free broadband. The rest could be used to provide premium broadband services.

T-Mobile, who paid $4 billion two years ago to buy AWS-1 spectrum, which abuts the AWS-3 spectrum, opposes Martin’s plan. While the FCC's goal of providing broadband alternatives for rural customers is "noble," the approach would cause service disruptions for T-Mobile's data customers, said Cole Brodman, T-Mobile's CTO.

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