FCC Floating A Free Wireless Internet Plan As Part Of New Auction

Kevin Martin, the outgoing FCC chairman, is pushing for a controversial free wireless internet plan, as part of the agency’s plan for the next slate of spectrum auction, reports the WSJ. At its December meeting, the FCC wants to put forth a plan to offer free, adult-material-free wireless Internet service to all Americans, despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer advocacy groups. The plan calls for the winning spectrum bidder to set aside a quarter of the airwaves for this free service, and would also allow it to charge for a faster 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 story says. The consumer groups object to the filtering part, for which FCC has a workaround: Adults could opt out of the filter and access all Internet sites.

The FCC could also discuss some other digital-media related plans, including the evergreen debate over cable unbundling. The agency has, however, shelved plans to consider some other controversial issues, including the broadcast flag request by Hollywood studios, which want to offer copy-protected theatrical releases sooner on TV.