Wednesday, August 15, 2007

M2Z Networks to Sue FCC

Startup M2Z Networks is upset that the FCC has yet to take action on a 2006 spectrum application and proposal filed by the company so...... it's going to file a lawsuit against the regulatory agency.

M2Z Networks' proposal is (or maybe was) to offer free ad-supported wireless broadband to 95 percent of the U.S. within 10 years, using 20 MHz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band (2155-2175 MHz). The speed of the free tier — 384 kbps down and 128 kbps up - barely qualifies the service as broadband, but might be acceptable to the average sit-in-the-park-and-surf-the-web wi-fi user who has nothing better to do.

In addition, there would be a 3 Mbps 'premium' service available to paying subscribers. The company proposes to lease the spectrum in exchange for it giving the FCC 5 percent of the gross revenues realized from its premium service. Public Safety entities would also have access to the network at no cost other than for the hardware, if I recall correctly.

However, The Wall Street Journal claims that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has shared a thumbs down opinion on the proposal with the rest of the commissioners. If the WSJ report is accurate, M2Z's legal threat may be pretty much meaningless.

As to the potential for success for this type of free network? Pretty questionable, at least in my opinion; most ad-supported free wi-fi networks have yet to pan out economically and most have discovered - the hard way - the many real-world realities inherent to wireless performance, coverage, and security. Not many have lived up to the promotional hype generated by their proponents nor delivered the user-experience expected. Besides, how much advertising can one take, anyway?

Check out M2Z's web site, then decide for yourself, though.


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