Back in 2006, a startup called M2Z Networks asked the FCC to give it a sizable chunk of valuable spectrum for free
, and in exchange, it would set up a nationwide wireless broadband network to offer free (and slow) "family-friendly" service and pay the government 5% of the revenues from a paid premium service also running on the network. We were skeptical of the plan because of its aggressive rollout schedule and the network's slow speed ("512 kbps" -- keep that figure in mind -- for the free tier/3 mbps for the paid tier), but mostly because of the huge expenditure required to build out a wireless network covering 95 percent of the US population -- expenditure which would be very difficult to recover from a free, slow service. The FCC wasn't convinced, either, and rejected
M2Z's proposal in 2007, though that wasn't the end of it. A congresswoman introduced
a bill tailor-made for M2Z's specs, but it went nowhere. Still, M2Z lives on, and it's now looking for a chunk of stimulus funding
to start building its network.
It doesn't look like M2Z has updated its plan at all since 2006, doing nothing to address any of the concerns, beyond replacing the need for private investment with a second government handout, on top of its free spectrum. In particular, they don't seem to have upped their targets for the speed of their network. What the company was proposing wasn't exactly fast in 2006, is pretty pokey now, and will be even less attractive by the time its network would get up and running. In addition, it's worth clarifying that the "512 kbps" M2Z talks about
is arrived at by adding
the 384kbps downstream speed plus the 128 kbps upstream speed they plan to offer. That's a new trick we haven't seen before, even in the world of "up to"
broadband speed advertising.