M2Z’s Wireless Broadband Utopia

M2Z Networks, a wireless broadband start-up backed by Sandhill Road venture capitalists – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Charles River Ventures and Redpoint Ventures – proposes to build a twin-purpose nationwide wireless broadband network, that will provide the third option for broadband services. The cable and phone companies have a virtual duopoly in the US. M2Z claims it can raise $400 million to help build and operate the network.

Mind you, these are just details from the FCC filings, and the company hasn’t made any statement. The company in a filing with FCC says it it was to get the soon to be vacated 2155 MHz to 2175 MHz spectrum for free for 15 years, it would offer universal broadband access nationwide, and in exchange it would hand over 5% of its gross revenues from its premium broadband service. In addition, it will give free 512 kilobits per second wireless access to one and all, which will be supported by advertising. According to Silicon Beat, M2Z says it can build this network in 10 years. ( I am not even going to get into the seemingly lopsided nature of this proposal….not up until I have more details on how the math is supposed to work!)

M2Z is the brain-child of FCC’s wireless bureau’s former head honcho John Muleta and Milo Medin, who in previous life had helped create and build the @Home Networks. (You can read all about that in Broadbandits: Inside The $750 Billion Telecom Heist). Milo, last time I saw him, was parked inside Charles River’s offices and was tooling around with Myth TV. Who knew he was cooking up yet another big network.

The blue-sky proposals such as this one, always make me queasy. It is easy to plan such massive scale networks, except when reality comes knocking. @Home comes to mind. What was the name of that ill-fated nationwide WiFi network backed by IBM, AT&T (the original), and a score of others.. Cometa was it?

Though earnest in its desire, the M2Z plan, is quite likely to be stuck in the quagmire called the Beltway. The spectrum owners – the wireless phone companies and others like Clearwire – would ensure that this plan doesn’t even get off the ground. Others who are planning to buy spectrum in a forthcoming auction would raise holy hell, if this deal was approved. But more importantly, the duopoly with its enormous clout in DC, is going to work hard to ensure that this remains a Silicon Valley dream.

As I have said earlier, between the wireless broadband utopia and Silicon Valley, there is Washington D.C.

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