USA Today, the smart paper that plays dumb, has a remarkably clear summary of FCC chairman Kevin Martin's plan for free broadband access — and its opposition by T-Mobile, the company that bought the wireless spectrum next door to the frequencies Martin wants to use. Here, let me make it even snappier:
High-speed Internet access is so important to the welfare of U.S. consumers that America can't afford not to offer it — free of charge — to anybody who wants it, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin says. Martin would like to use an old $6 billion federal subsidy for land lines to subsidize broadband instead. Only 38% of rural households are broadband customers, and only 25% of households with incomes less than $20,000. A chunk of wireless airwaves known as AWS-3 (Advanced Wireless Services) is due to be auctioned to carriers next year. Martin wants to attach a requirement to reserve 25% of AWS-3 network capacity for free broadband. T-Mobile paid $4 billion two years ago to buy AWS-1 spectrum, which abuts AWS-3. T-Mobile's chief technical officer says wireless broadband for rural customers in the AWS-3 spectrum would interfere with paying T-Mobile customers. Martin says FCC engineers are studying the interference issue.