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The County Executives of America plans to build a nationwide wireless broadband network to cover residents of its 700 member counties, and has applied for $122 million in stimulus grants to kick off the effort. The money would fund networks in 12 counties and would cover more than 14 million people.
The CEA hopes to let M2Z, a Kleiner Perkins-backed startup that’s been trying to build a free wireless broadband network since May 2006, build out the network using the AWS-3 band of spectrum. We explained why M2Z was a bad bet back in 2008, but the utopian idea of free wireless broadband isn’t going away, especially since the current Federal Communications Commission Chair is so keen on mobile broadband as the great equalizer.
Here are the details on the CEA plan:
Specifically, the CEA broadband stimulus application aims to bring free broadband access to 12 major counties and serving the residents of Allegheny County, Pa.; Bronx County, N.Y.; Chambers and Kaufmann Counties, Texas; DeKalb County, Ga.; Kenosha County, Wis.; New Castle County, Del.; Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Md.; Will and Cook Counties, Ill.; and Salt Lake City County, Utah.
But the plan submitted by the CEA offers two service options: a paid 6 Mbps offering (the application cuts off right as it says what the paid version would cost) and M2Z’s original free service with speeds of 768 kbps — what most would call barely broadband. The FCC in March suggested that it would create a free nationwide wireless broadband network, but my sources there assured me it wasn’t related to M2Z. Looks like now M2Z is attempting to take its free wireless broadband proposal to other entities.