Commentary

FCC Cancels Meeting on AWS-3 Auction

Responding to a request from Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Henry Waxman, who will lead, respectively, the Senate and House commerce committees next year, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has canceled Thursday’s meeting that was to have featured discussion and potential vote on Martin’s controversial plan to set aside spectrum for a nationwide free, but filtered, Internet service. The set-aside idea has been heavily promoted by M2Z Networks, which had hoped to win the spectrum at a substantially discounted price. The project, however, was dogged by concerns about censorship, expressed below my commentary “Kevin Martin’s Kiddie Internet Plan.” While the rules allow the FCC to act on the plan without public discussion, as Wireless Week reports, it is unlikely they will do so. And the plan itself may be beached by the change in administrations. Martin, a Bush appointee, is expected to resign after Barack Obama’s inauguration. If his successor chooses to continue pressing the plan, it may yet be an uphill battle. Wireless Week catalogs the reasons why the plan has something to bother everyone.

Martin’s proposed rules for the auction are controversial for several reasons ââ?¬â?? incumbent carriers disagree with the requirement to use such spectrum for free public service; a variety of parties claim the rules are designed to unfairly help startup M2Z Networks; incumbents also say that M2Z’s plan would cause interference to existing networks; public advocacy groups disagree with the requirement to filter traffic on that service; and government budget-watchers say the spectrum would be grossly underpriced.

Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.