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FCC report negates free Internet interference claims

Report from commission engineers boosts plan to auction spectrum for free wireless Internet by dismissing concerns it would interfere with existing providers' signals.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
Correction: This post initially misstated the portion of spectrum cited in newly released FCC report. It was updated 3:15 PDT with corrected information and related background.

A Federal Communications Commission engineering report released late Friday essentially backs a plan to create a free wireless Internet service by dismissing concerns about interference for existing providers.


The FCC has been considering auctioning 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band. As part of the rules for using the spectrum, the FCC plans to require license holders to offer some free wireless broadband service.

The FCC sees the plan, which is based on a proposal submitted to the FCC by M2Z Networks in 2006, as a way to provide broadband Internet service to millions of Americans who either can't afford or don't want to pay for high-speed Internet access.

But existing providers like T-Mobile USA, which spent $4.2 billion in 2006 acquiring spectrum in an adjacent band, say that opening up this spectrum would cause interference and disrupt service.

Friday's report, however, concludes that spectrum could be used as planned "without a significant risk of harmful interference."

Click here for a PDF of the full FCC report.

It should be noted that this free Internet plan is separate from a proposal to use so called unused TV spectrum, also known as "white space" for wireless broadband services.