No free internet, say US mobile bosses

Who wouldn't want free wireless internet? The FCC is meeting later this month to finalise plans for the auction of spectrum, with the proviso that who

Who wouldn't want free wireless internet? The FCC is meeting later this month to finalise plans for the auction of spectrum, with the proviso that whoever wins access to the frequencies must provide free internet access for American consumers.

Unsurprisingly, this hasn't gone down well among existing mobile phone companies, who are doing very nicely, thank you, by charging for the wireless web.

The FCC is keen to open up the 2155-2180 MHz band to Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) and already has a consortium - M2Z Networks - lined up that is happy to offer 'mid-speed' wireless internet for free, alongside a faster, paid-for option.

In the other corner, however, is almost the entire US mobile phone industry. AT&T, Nokia, Motorola, Nortel, Qualcomm, the CTIA, Ericsson and US Cellular all signed a letter of complaint to the FCC, claiming that the AWS plans will cause interference with existing frequencies and give MZ2 an unfair advantage.

T-Mobile is particularly unhappy, as frequencies it shelled out $4.2 billion (£2.8 billion) for could be especially prone to interference.

The FCC meeting to decide on the 'free internet' proviso for AWS has just been confirmed for December 18, raising the possibility of a very nice Christmas present for M2Z Networks - and ultimately for US phone users, too.