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M2Z's hopes for a wireless network are crushed

Wed, 09/01/2010 - 8:20am
Brian Santo

The prospect of a national, free, but low-bandwidth wireless broadband network that M2Z Networks has been pushing for over five years has been killed by the Federal Communications Commission.

The practical effect of the FCC decision is that the FCC will never make available the AWS-3 spectrum that M2Z's proposed network was entirely dependent upon.

The plan was opposed by T-Mobile, the primary user of AWS-1 (Advanced Wireless Service) spectrum in the U.S.; other licensees include Cricket and MetroPCS. AT&T, Comcast, and other companies were also opposed.

The main objection was that signals in the AWS-3 spectrum (2155-2180 MHz) M2Z proposed to use would interfere with signals in the AWS-1 band (2110 to 2155 MHz). The FCC conducted interference tests and said interference was unlikely, but T-Mobile and its allies argued the testing did not support the conclusion.

After years of contention, and prior to a November 14 deadline, the FCC has notified M2Z and its investors – Kleiner Perkins, Charles River Ventures, Redpoint Ventures – that it has terminated the AWS-3 spectrum public interest rulemaking. The practical effect of the decision is that the AWS-3 spectrum will not be made available.

M2Z was the only likely bidder for the spectrum (giving rise to another objection from opponents – a decision to make the spectrum available would benefit only a single company).

"The FCC's decision to delay the use of this valuable spectrum forgoes the consumer welfare and economic stimulus that would result from putting new spectrum into the marketplace," said John Muleta, CEO of M2Z Networks, in a statement. "A new nationwide broadband entrant that provided a free broadband service would have created tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs throughout the country while giving all Americans an equal opportunity to participate in the digital economy. Despite the spectrum crisis facing the U.S. as documented by the FCC's National Broadband Plan, the AWS-3 spectrum will continue to lie fallow providing no economic value to American consumers."

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