Tuesday, December 02, 2008

FCC wants to auction airwaves, with requirement to offer free Internet


Kim Dixon, of Reuters, reports today that the Federal Communications Commission is considering a plan to auction airwaves, but with a stipulation that winning bidders offer some free Internet service. The link for the story is here.

Some companies, like cell phone companies, object, saying that this does not comport with a viable business model for many smaller wireless companies. The scheme is said to be too dependent on advertising, which may not work well in a cellular environment or during economic downturn.

Many larger Internet companies have actually supported largely Democratic proposals to build infrastructure to bring broadband and secure wireless to all areas, including lower income people, maintaining that broadband should be seen as like other infrastructure utilities, such as electricity. During periods of economic downturn, companies tend to look to government leadership in supporting new infrastructure, as happened in the 1930s. Companies believe that they will get new customers while not bearing all the risk of service extension themselves.

I recall that during the past downturn (2001 and 2002), cable companies still sought to hire door-to-door salesmen to sell cable in new exurban residential developments.

A number of the nation's telecommunications providers have published a PDF document called "A Call to Action for a National Broadband Strategy," link here.

Picture: on a reservation in South Dakota (taken by me in 2002)

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