updated 12:30 pm EST, Tue December 30, 2008
Free wireless broadband
Kevin Martin, Chairman of the FCC, has dropped the content filtering provisions from the proposal for free wireless broadband service, according to an interview with Ars Technica. Previous drafts of the plan required protection methods to prevent users from accessing objectionable content such as pornography. "I'm saying if this is a problem for people, let's take it away," Martin said.
The proposal has received criticism and opposition from a variety of groups including the Bush administration, wireless companies, and consumer interest organizations. T-Mobile has argued that communicating data on the allocated frequency bands will cause interference and quality degradation. Civil liberties groups argue that the FCC would overstep its authority and violate the constitution.
"A lot of public interest advocates have said they would support this, but we're concerned about the filter," Martin noted. "Well, now there's an item in front of the Commissioners and it no longer has the filter." Although the change is unlikely to reduce the flak coming from mobile carriers, many of the other opposing parties could turn around and support the proposal.
The plan centers around part of the Advanced Wireless Services 3 band (2155MHz to 2180MHz) to be auctioned in 2009. The winning bidder would be required to create a free basic broadband service at a minimum speed of 768Kbps, with half of the US covered after four years and 95 percent included after ten years.