The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected an application by M2Z, a California-based venture that petitioned the FCC for a 15-year exclusive nationwide license to build and operate a “family friendly spectrum” in the 2155MHz-to-2175MHz spectrum band, a spectrum not currently being used.
M2Z petitioned for use of the spectrum in return for depositing part of its revenues with the U.S. Treasury. The petition was filed 16 months ago by M2Z, a start-up company founded by a former FCC wireless telecommunications bureau chief and a former NASA engineer and backed by several high-profile Silicon Valley VC firms. M2Z pitched its application as bringing competition to the broadband market as a “free” wireless network that would operate in the public interest.
The free service, however, would have been supported by advertising and would actually require a consumer to purchase of an M2Z reception device (estimated retail of US$200) with a mandatory filtering system to block access to sites with obscene, indecent or pornographic material to receive the “free” wireless reception.
The wireless industry strongly objected to what it termed the privatization of public airwaves and said that the open airwaves should be auctioned off to provide a better long-term use for more public benefit. The FCC agreed, indicating that it did not believe that one company should control a broad piece of the spectrum for such a long term without more consideration over how use of this spectrum could serve the public interest.
A coalition of public interest groups also raised concerns about M2Z’s network filters and how it was evaluating the material in lieu of U.S. Constitutional First Amendment concerns (guaranteeing individual rights to privacy). The coalition requested that the FCC impose Net neutrality requirements on that spectrum.
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