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M2Z's Free, Wireless Broadband Killed In Advance 113

mspohr writes with a sad excerpt from Fast Company: "Despite a seemingly stout business plan, and all the financial, social, and educational benefits it would bring, the FCC's just turned down M2Z's application for a coast-to-coast free wireless broadband system. ... The FCC is known to have heard complaints about M2Z's plan from existing wireless carriers. Though M2Z's network would've operated at under 1 Mbps peak speeds — meaning it was very slow by today's standards, and probably snail-like by tomorrow's — its free pricing may well have tempted many folks away from spending cash with an established ISP. Those carriers are now reported to be pleased with the FCC's decision, though they argue it's in line with the greater National Broadband Plan. Whenever that actually gets off the ground."
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M2Z's Free, Wireless Broadband Killed In Advance

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  • Free Internet! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @08:56AM (#33487856)
    Citizens: What a great idea! Slow, but available. If I can't and/or don't want to pay a lot for faster Internet, we have an option!
    FCC: Sorry, but this isn't in the best interests of the corporations.
    • Re:Free Internet! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thijsh ( 910751 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:04AM (#33487904) Journal
      Great plan! It would take care of the whole 'right to internet' idea, and make the US one of the first countries to effectively roll out some form of free internet to all citizens. Putting the country at the forefront of modern rights for its citizens. Any government 'for the people' would jump at this idea...
      Yeah, I can see how the corporatocracy would think this is a bad idea. There is no profit in citizen rights...
    • by dintech ( 998802 )

      Careful there comrade, they're listening. (After all, they are the FCC).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've got an idea. That senator of yours -- you know, that ol' boy that's been in there about 30 years -- get rid of him! Do a little homework on your candidates before penciling in the name you've seen on the most billboards.

        • Yeah, because replacing him with a new, fresh, younger model is going to be a drastic improvement. Oh wait, we already tried that and got fucked anyway.

          Unfortunately, Frank Capra doesn't write reality and there are no Mr. Smiths

    • Does this mean I can't get the free WiFi's for my free iPhone? [slashdot.org]
      • Considering that my Nexus One was purchased by me and doesn't require any service whatsoever to operate other than a WiFi or bluetooth connection, this could be very bad for cell carriers. Skype for instance seems to only need a fraction of what this would provide. Granted it would require a second device at this stage to make it available to my phone, but it would allow me to be completely without cell service over much the country and still able to talk. Consequently, it's hardly shocking that the cell ca
        • While that's true, we have to move along with the times - companies will live and die as technology changes.

          Anyone remember Internet Cafe`s ? Used to be very popular before you could get wifi on your mobile/laptop at MickyDee's.

        • First if you RTFA it seems they are using the old "ad-supported" model, I highly doubt they would allow skype and the like. Secondly bandwidth isn't the only consideration for Voip, latency is actually a much bigger factor and I doubt a network like this would have latencies that would make having a phone conversation a possibility. Unless you hate your friends of course.
          • latency is actually a much bigger factor

            You can have a reasonable VoIP conversation with 200ms latency and a usable one with 1 second latency. The thing that really kills VoIP is jitter. As long as the latency stays roughly the same from one packet to the next, you just notice slightly longer pauses than are natural, or both of you talking at once briefly. When the latency fluctuates, you either get a drop in quality or you need big buffers (adding more latency) to compensate.

    • TFA is short on details on how it could be financed. How they planned to make money out of it, other than "advertising". Putting ads in existing web pages was the suggestion. I wonder how they do that: a top frame with M2Z's ads? Interstitials between every visited page? They probably do not want to give too many details as otherwise an FF extension to filter those ads would be ready before the network could start operating.

      On the other hand it goes to show how cheap data connections really are, and how ch

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      And who should we blame? Corps, who like everyone, has their best interests in mind, or those who grant their wishes? It should be pretty clear as to the real cause of monopolies...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The cause is a constant flow of money from corporations to government officials.

        This undermines the democracy, as officials tend to represent those who elect them.

        Without such external money, the officials would tend to represent the voters.
        With such external money, and a system that requires expensive campaigns, the officials will tend to represent those who fund the campaign.

        One way to fix the problem is to eliminate political donations entirely, and only have government funded election information broadc

        • The solution seems obvious to me: don't give anyone the power to do things like this. Without that, no amount of bribing will bring it about, because there's nobody with that power to bribe in the first place.
      • And who should we blame? Corps, who like everyone, has their best interests in mind, or those who grant their wishes?

        Both. Why would either those who say "please screw people over for my benefit" or those who answer "okay" be without blame?

        It should be pretty clear as to the real cause of monopolies...

        Monopolies are caused by the exponential nature of compound interest. The more money you have, the easier it is to make more, resulting in you having yet more money. The end result is a singularity forms and

    • Basically I'm getting the 'net with speeds like these guys were talking about "free" with the cellphone I'd be paying for regardless.

      I travel a lot and need "internet anywhere". I was using Verizon's cellmodem (EVDO) service with an Expresscard device (Kyocera KPC680) for $60 a month flat rate, plus $80 a month for unlimited talk on a regular cellphone. It was just too much. Speed at speedtest.net was generally about 1.2mb/s inbound, creepy-slow outbound (little better than dialup, no hope of uploading a

  • by geogob ( 569250 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:01AM (#33487882)

    ... the application was turned down by the FCC for undisclosed reasons, but following the application of many complaints by the competitors. mmmm.
    This sounds about as bad as something our good friends at the CRTC would do.

    The argument that it went against the bold national broadband plan is really unsettling. Maybe we should somehow remind them that it's not because broadband should be available to everyone that everyone wants to (or can) pay its price.

  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:01AM (#33487884)

    You don't need that much bandwidth to read email, or browse non *tube sites. The article doesn't say if it was open AP free or free with registration (which would have greatly reduced the OMG porn factor), but I'm guessing free with registration, because OMG terrorists.

    • No, with the internet it's OMG (don't) think of the kids.

      I guess it would be like BT Cloud access here; You have an account, you are presented with a default login form when you connect to an access point, you log in (or register) to connect to the tubes. Only unlike BT Cloud, it doesn't cost stupid money.
    • by Inda ( 580031 )
      The local government is trying to do somthing similar in my town. Free wi-fi low-band internet with the option to upgrade to 20mbit for a price. Trials are happening in an ajoining village but I've not heard much back.

      Seems like a good idea to me.


    • by DMiax ( 915735 )

      You don't need that much bandwidth to [...] or browse non *tube sites.

      You wish! I can totally feel the sites being slow when I am not on 3G. And this is with plugins blocked. Even being far from the originating place will hurt loading time considerably. There are homepages (mind you, it is and should be the most frequently accessed page) that weight 1MiB, and this is for ISP websites! If I am not at peak speed it can take three-four seconds to load them. I feel back in 1995...

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:02AM (#33487894) Homepage

    ...it is going to include things you won't like, This is just a taste of things to come.

    • ...it is going to include things you won't like

      You mean like random popups of incumbent politicians a la 'ChatRoulette'?
      Congressman: Hi there, I'm Congressman Johns... pop!
      Senator: Hi there, I'm Senator ... oh, hi Bob. I didn't know you were counseling this lovely citizen. pop!
      Mayor: Ah, welcome to the Quimby Internet Channel.
      Other: Who are you?!?
      Mayor: Vote Quimby!

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:22AM (#33487994)

    Simple as that. When this system will make a large-enough-to-afford-lobbying company rich, then it'll pass.

    • Apparently the 'greater than' symbol in the title was sanitised.

      Corporations [Greater than] People, is what the title was supposed to be.

  • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:26AM (#33488016)

    If we had 1mb free wireless internet all across the country, the impact would be huge to mobile phone providers. Lots of people would just switch to using wifi and google voice/skype or similar to make calls. 1mb is more than enough to handle a non-video call.

    • And you think the mobile providers would care? You already bought the phone with the data, if some users want to offload traffic to a free service, let 'em!

      I highly doubt this would deter many people from getting a data plan.

  • by anguirus.x ( 1463871 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:27AM (#33488032)
    Think about this. This company is being criticized for trying to offer a product that is a generation *behind* the current technology. Just think if you wanted to buy a microwave, but you were forced to pay double what you wanted to because some government regulation mandated you adhere to a minimum power rating, safety features like locking doors, etc. etc. etc. It would be considered intrusive and there are a ton of people who would just say "Fsck it, I don't really need soggy pizza rolls anyways". That's what we have right now with the FCC. There are millions of Americans who have no internet because it's too expensive, and they have no need for the bandwidth. OK established corporations, game time, what can *you* offer us?
    • by Klinky ( 636952 )

      Established Corporation Says: "We just snuffed out another chance at competition, what do we care what you want?"

    • They don't have to offer anything because they got the FCC to kill whatever form of competition this might have given them. When you can get the government to essentially grant you a monopoly without the strict oversight and regulations that are usually associated with such things (e.g. utility companies.), why bother actually trying to be competitive or offer anything?
    • "Fsck it, I don't really need soggy pizza rolls anyways".

      government regulation or no, that's why I warm most stuff up in the toaster instead.

    • There is no evidence of too much regulation here -- just wrong or poorly done regulation.
      • If regulation were done correctly consistently, there would be no such thing as over-regulation.

        This is exactly what happens when there is too much regulation, and it is exactly why the amount of regulation is considered too much.

        • Sorry but you are not making any sense. Over regulation does not equate to poor regulation. They are not the same thing. Over regulation implies that there should be less regulation. Poor regulation means there should be better (not less) regulation.
  • FCC (Score:2, Insightful)

    Federal Corporative Custodian?
    No, really, what possible valid explanation can they roll out? Maybe they fear that all these hotspots would shred America apart [slashdot.org]?
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:36AM (#33488084)

    The article mentions that one of the early complains against the proposed free network operation was that it can be used to watched porn.

    Well of course it can be used for that. It can also be used to plan terrorist attacks. Or even more nefarious things: people may us it to discuss whether to plant yellow or pink flowers in their garden.

    Interesting how this "but it can be used to watch porn!" argument pops up any time someone proposes a free or cheap new way to connect to the Internet.

    It makes one wonder why this is never used seriously against established operators. Why this is never used against proposals to providing cheap Internet to poor families (supplied by established ISPs of course). It couldn't be something political, or could it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Haedrian ( 1676506 )

      Why this is never used against proposals to providing cheap Internet to poor families (supplied by established ISPs of course). It couldn't be something political, or could it?

      Poor families have a tendancy to have more children. They don't need porn.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      Hey, it's the free market! What do you expect? Why allow competition when you can crush it beneath your bootheel for hookers and blow to the right politicians?

      I'm surprised this argument hasn't been used against Linux. "But you can watch porn with it!". Bet you Steve Ballmer is reading that article and kicking himself in the ass for not thinking of it first.

      • Linux is not high profile enough for that, and by the time it gets sufficiently high profile it will be so ingrained that, like Windows and established ISPs, this argument is considered too ridiculous to work. I see it typically used against high-profile newcomers.
      • I didnt realise you can watch porn with just the linux kernel
        • I didnt realise you can watch porn with just the linux kernel

          You apparently haven't read some of the comments in the source code. The linux kernel IS pr0n by many standards.


    • Similar argument used to support the FCC being involved with indecency on broadcast TV. It's always there in the air and a child could tune into broadcast TV at any time, so there has to be indecency regulation.

      • Similar argument used to support the FCC being involved with indecency on broadcast TV. It's always there in the air and a child could tune into broadcast TV at any time, so there has to be indecency regulation.

        Don't we have the V-chip? The FCC's role has been superseded by technology, as far as I'm concerned.

        • >> Don't we have the V-chip? The FCC's role has been superseded
          >> by technology, as far as I'm concerned.

          Off-topic, but I totally agree.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      It makes one wonder why this is never used seriously against established operators.

      Because the established operators are committed to battling net neutrality. Where they can claim to be able to block porn. Or anything else they are not paid for.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the Soviet States of America!

    Killing competition before it even starts, what kind of capitalism is that? Not to mention that in a supposedly democratic country one should be able to choose as well?

    An analogy: the free news and magazines. They are available everywhere, yet still they haven't killed the big name news nor magazines.

    Only ones that the FCC decision serves are the big-a$$ companies. Everybody else is loosing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2010 @09:52AM (#33488182)

    This happened in history already almost 100 years ago. Wireless... free... the only difference, it was electrical power instead of internet. They tore down the Wardenclyffe tower because they couldn't meter the power usage. Meaning free wireless Power/Internet/ doesn't work... how did Radio get past that?? Oh ads...right. The thing is even if this went through would it really stop people from paying for fast speed? Not necessarily.. The people who would use this free internet wouldn't be people who already have an ISP at home, but they'd use this on the go, or really really really cheap welfare people who just cant afford internet and never would/could pay for an ISP anyway! So who's losing out here? The people. Thank you and good night.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 )

      This happened in history already almost 100 years ago. Wireless... free... the only difference, it was electrical power instead of internet. They tore down the Wardenclyffe tower because they couldn't meter the power usage. Meaning free wireless Power/Internet/ doesn't work... how did Radio get past that?? Oh ads...right.

      Wardenclyffe can be described as a power plant only if you consider the demands of a crystal radio set to be a practical demonstration of broadcast power.

      The Shoreham, L.I., tower was dyna

  • I think the FCC is just looking out for everyones best interest here. They obviously figured out that they couldn't believe M2Z's claim to offer it to everyone, when they clearly intend to exclude everyone in the A to L range!
  • Watch your prefix (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gryphia ( 947956 )
    If they were only rolling out a 1 milibit per second connection, I doubt it would be good for much of anything. That's 56 million times slower than an old 56k modem. A 1 Mbs (megabit per second) would be better, but still slow, and a 1 MBs would be an even better. If the plan really was for a 1 mbs connection we lost nothing by having the FCC shut it down. Or maybe someone just needs to pay more attention to their prefixes.
  • The Forever Network (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Posting anonymously of course, I call (to someone who would know what they'd be doing) for an open, freely accessible network. If we can create pirate bay, we can create The Network. No more company restrictions. We create the hardware, we set up safe, intelligent systems that will self-repair for the next 10 000 years. Perhaps low-power, low-speed, but omnipresent, capable of free information sharing. A Network that will inevitably spread throughout the world as nodes upon nodes can spring up based on the
  • Original Article that TFA links to: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9HVCJF00&show_article=1 [breitbart.com] "[the FCC] has rejected M2Z's request that the agency demand that the winner of an auction for the radio spectrum provide free Internet service to anyone who connects to it. " It didn't have anything to do with M2Z....but I can see why they shot down the "requirement that it be free"
    • Thanks for pointing that out. I hate it when people cite blog posts for news because they're almost always wrong about the details. Would it have killed the original poster to have read the article cited in the original blog post?
    • On top of that, M2Z could still win the auction and go ahead with their plan. It's likely that the spectrum will auction for a lot more money now, though, so M2Z will be outbid. That's why M2Z wanted the strict service rules that aligned exactly with their business model - they'd likely be the only (or at least the highest) bidder.

  • with the power to bring net neutrality, in spite of ISPs' best interests?
    • And I thought you guys trusted FCC

      We do?

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Trust is relative. In this case, we "trust" the FCC a bit more than we would trust unregulated telcos with no mandate at all.

      Given the choice between fox and weasel to guard the henhouse, choose the weasel. It will eat all the eggs but at least it won''t kill the chickens.

  • This plan should continue to be developed, abet at a slower pace. In the event of national disaster, it could serve as a back-up to the existing internet structure. I know, I know, the internet itself was originally designed to be the backup of the national communications network in the event of a nuclear war that destroyed the centralized switching terminals of the phone system.

    But the web now is much greater than its original design and much more fragile. In the event of a 'long emergency', if I may in

  • Depends how under. If they consistently give users 900K, that is not so bad, and I see why the other wireless carriers are so afraid.

    A half mile away from an antennae, 4G becomes all but useless. Since in my area antennas are spaced more than one mile apart, such a situation is common. Many areas of the US do not have 3g or 4g. If we can get a uniform coverage of just under 1mb/sec, this will force the wireless companies to compete, something they obviously do not want to do, preferring to run borderl

  • Good riddance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @11:25AM (#33488744) Journal

    This wasn't a free nationwide internet plan. This was a spectrum grab with the nationwide internet plan added to sweeten the deal for the FCC.

    M2Z's trick was going to be to use a spare bit of the radio spectrum, the 2GHz "AWS-3" band, and earn itself cash by embedding ads in its free Net service as well as licensing out part of the spectrum it would then be controlling for other commercial uses.

    The second part is the key thing; they would have gotten the AWS-3 band, nationwide, for free, and then leased it back out.

    • AWS-3 is a 20mhz swath from 2155-2175 mhz. Compare that to 802.11. Each channel in 802.11 is alocated 22mhz.

      I think either you don't realize what was really being sold off, or you are misleading.

      Think about that-- less than one 802.11 wireless channel is what they would have gave up. Now that bandwidth does have a price if the FCC were to sell our bandwidth (yes our, it is the citizens spectrum) they estimate a sale at 2 billion. Do you think two billion is fair for a national broadband plan? How
  • Lobbying against your potential competitors is better then having to pour concrete around their feet and throw them into a river.

    • yes, big business is preferable to organized crime even if it ain't the theoretical optimum...this is actually a component of the "legalize drugs" argument: it cuts off much of the most-objectionable drug-dealing-related behavior, such as that kind of violence

  • Big corporations have become stronger and smarter and Govt cannot monitor their day-to-day illegal & immoral activities.
    Govt can punish individuals but not big corporations because they can topple them e.g http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldman_Sachs [wikipedia.org]
    Govt can only go for settlement with big corporations e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org]
    It is better to breakup these corporations into smaller entities to solve unemployment and to promote competition.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lis [wikipedia.org]

  • Every US Federal regulatory body has a formal / informal (i.e., corrupt) advocacy role for those corporations they are supposedly overseeing.
  • I'm working with a city council candidate to implement a public MESH network trialing it in his ward first. I did advise him that setting up such a system would more likely than not violate the TOS of most providers like Cox and Verizon. But screw em' if they don't like it. We can throttle the bandwidth and block certain ports on the feed side so it's not like the traffic would be extreme.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein