By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer groups, outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing for action this month on a plan to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans.
“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 proposal to allow a no-smut, free wireless Internet service is part of a proposal to auction off a chunk of airwaves. The winning bidder would be required to set aside a quarter of the airwaves for a free Internet service. The free service would be required to filter out pornography and other material not suitable for children.
Martin is expected to put the proposal for the free Internet network on the agency’s Dec. 18 meeting agenda despite criticism by wireless operators such as T-Mobile USA.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile paid $4 billion a few years ago for nearby airwaves and believes the free wireless Internet plan will result in interference for consumers of its new 3G wireless network. The FCC dismissed the company’s interference concerns this fall, although T-Mobile disagreed with that finding.
Consumer advocates are also objecting to the plan because of the proposed pornography filter. To address these concerns, the FCC is proposing that adults could opt out and access all Internet sites.
The public is invited to contact FCC commissioners before Dec. 11 to voice their support of this new porn-free wireless service.
The following commissioners should be contacted by phone and e-mail:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps: Michael.Copps@fcc.gov (202) 418-2000
Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein: Jonathan.Adelstein@fcc.gov
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Robert McDowell: Robert.McDowell@fcc.gov
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