FCC to test proposed free wireless service for interference

Next week, FCC engineers will go to Seattle to see whether a proposed free wireless broadband service will interfere with T-Mobile's new 3G services.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

Federal Communications Commission engineers will be conducting tests in Seattle next week to see if a proposed free wireless service would interfere with T-Mobile's newly acquired spectrum.

The FCC has been considering auctioning 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band of spectrum. 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 T-Mobile USA, which spent $4.2 billion in 2006 acquiring spectrum in an adjacent band, says that opening up this spectrum would cause interference and disrupt service.

M2Z, a potential bidder for the new spectrum, says that services could co-exist in the adjacent spectrum band without interference. The company and its supporters believe that T-Mobile and others who oppose the use of this spectrum are simply trying to derail potential competition.

But in a letter sent to the FCC earlier this week, T-Mobile said it doesn't fear competition from new service providers. Instead it simply "wants to ensure that its existing customers are able to place calls and maintain communications on the AWS-1 spectrum."

T-Mobile, the smallest of the four major nationwide wireless carriers in the U.S., is using the AWS spectrum it recently acquired to provide additional capacity to launch its 3G services. The operator launched those services in two markets so far: Las Vegas and New York City. And it's expected to launch the service in 80 percent of the top 20 markets by the end of the year.