WASHINGTON - A U.S. Representative from California on Thursday introduced the Wireless Internet Nationwide for Families Act, which would have the Federal Communications Commission auction off a band of wireless spectrum.
The catch to the bill is that the winner would be required to offer a free wireless broadband network that would reach 95 percent of the U.S. population.
The item was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who heads up a House telecommunications and Internet panel.
Eshoo said the action was spurred by her disappointment that large wireless carriers snagged a significant share of similar airwaves in an auction held in March. Her proposal would have the FCC auction off a band of wireless spectrum between 2,155 MHz and 2,180 MHz.
In addition to providing a free broadband network, the winning bidder would be required to offer a service free of subscription fees, begin offering always-on broadband service within two years of receiving the license, and ensure the service offers data-transmission speed of at least 200 kbs per second in at least one direction.
"While the auction required under this legislation is open to anyone, it is my hope that the bold conditions of requiring free, family-friendly service will encourage the entry of a new kind of national broadband service provider," Eshoo said.
Analysts have said the requirements are similar to a plan M2Z Networks offered to the FCC in recent years. The FCC dismissed that petition.
One of Eshoo's aides said the representative had conversations with M2Z Networks while drafting the bill, but her motivation was "primarily to provide alternative means of broadband access for more Americans, and this fallow spectrum seemed to be a real opportunity."