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FCC To Propose Free, No-Porn Internet Network

In the remaining weeks of his tenure, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin will push for a free, no-porn wireless Internet network across the nation, according to the agency.

Martin is expected to put his proposal for the free Internet network on the agency's Dec. 18 meeting agenda despite criticism by wireless operators like T-Mobile, who say using the spectrum could interfere with their new high-speed data network. T-Mobile, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Telecom, spent $4 billion for nearby spectrum and has disputed a report by the FCC that rejected the firm's concerns of interference.

For Martin, however, the plan could dispel criticism he's taken over the country's fall in international broadband Internet rankings during his tenure and leave him with a legacy of potentially bringing more competition into the wireless industry. The wireless phone market is dominated by AT&T and Verizon Wireless and much smaller providers, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.

"This initiative brings with it the promise of a free basic broadband service to hundreds of thousands of Americans who currently have limited or no access to the high-speed Internet," Martin said. "It is important that we find new and creative ways to make broadband services more accessible, reliable and robust throughout our nation and this initiative will help us meet that goal."

The free Internet service proposal would be part of an auction for a swath of airwaves with a requirement that one-quarter of the spectrum be used for free consumer use.

The winner of the auction could charge for a service on the remaining spectrum that could have faster speeds than the free service. The free service would have a filter to keep pornography and other material not suitable for children off the network, though adults could opt out of that feature.

Silicon Valley-backed M2Z Networks Inc. has pushed for the plan, with investors including Google funder Klein Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr.

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 1, 2008; 5:30 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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I like the free wireless network. Internet access is a necessity in today's world and providing free service is a public good. But tying it together with "porn-free" makes no sense- they are separate issues altogether. A better solution would be to create a high-level porn-free domain or to create a virtual red-light district via a .xxx domain. The latter would be harder to police and comes with all sorts of 1st amendment issues.

Posted by: tgoglia | December 2, 2008 2:50 PM

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