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Take the Airwaves, But Give Us Free Internet, FCC Proposes


The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may consider auctioning public airwaves to private companies — on the condition that the winning bidder provide free internet access nationwide.

Chairman Kevin Martin put the proposal before the commission on Dec. 18.

Mobile phone firms are displeased with the prospect of giving out free internet, arguing it is not a feasible business model for most companies, Reuters writes.

And for once, advocacy group the Free Press agrees. "Everybody likes the concept — free broadband, free access to the Internet — but in practice, the way the model is set up, it may present problems," said policy director Ben Scott.

Free speech advocates also took issue with the plan's inclusion of a provision that requires winning bidders to block pornography and other offensive content from the free internet access.

Still others doubt that in the current recessionary economy, investors would be willing and able to build the infrastructure crucial to such a project.

Before that question can be answered, the FCC must first approve the auction proposal, which analysts call unlikely. Martin must gain the support of at least two Democratic members and convince the commission's remaining Republican members to back the proposal.

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