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FCC’s Free Wi-Fi Service Plan Crumbles

The FCC plan to provide free wireless high-speed Internet service has been delayed over concerns of potential interference and the upset of free speech advocates who are opposed to a new censoring feature.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said that the plan will not be voted on at the June 12 meeting as first promised, but he hopes to present it in July to the full commission.

“I want to be clear that I am still very supportive of the cause of providing a lifeline broadband service across the country,” Martin said.

The new plan calls for the FCC to auction 25 megahertz of spectrum to a single bidder who would use it to build a nationwide network. The bidder would dedicate 25% of its broadband service for free wi-fi.

Martin said some wireless companies whose frequencies are near those of the proposed network voiced concerns that it may create interference. He also said some were worried about a plan to filter offensive content that could be accessed on the network that might be inappropriate for minors.

However, Martin supports the idea of allowing adults to opt out of the filtered censoring service.

If commissioners approve the plan at the July meeting, the auction could take place by the end of 2008.