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FCC seeking comment on free wireless auction

Agency details plans to auction off wireless spectrum to buyers who promise free Internet service that filters content and is open to third-party devices and apps.

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday formalized its plans to auction off a section of wireless spectrum to buyers who promise to provide free Internet service that filters out pornography and other inappropriate content, and offers open access to third-party devices and applications.

The agency is seeking public comment on the plan details, of which are posted here. Winning bidders of the 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 2155MHz band would also be required to provide free wireless coverage to at least half of the United States within four years, and to at least 95 percent of the population by the end of the 10-year license, according to Reuters and the FCC posting.

The plan could face opposition from wireless service providers, who have traditionally opposed any stipulations imposed on wireless spectrum auctions. CTIA, the trade organization representing the industry, has already filed comments with the commission urging it not to put requirements on the spectrum.

Given that free wireless Internet business models have yet to be proven successful, it could prove challenging for the FCC to find bidders willing to take on the above stipulations.