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5/22/2006
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Startup Wants To Offer Free Nationwide Wireless

M2Z Networks says it wants to provide "near ubiquitous" coverage at speeds of about 384 Kbps for downloads in the 2.1 GHz spectrum band.

A startup says it will provide free nationwide wireless access in the U.S. if it is granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In papers filed with the FCC earlier this month, M2Z Networks said it wants to provide "near ubiquitous" nationwide wireless coverage at speeds of about 384 Kbps for downloads in the 2.1 Ghz spectrum band. The company called that band of spectrum, "largely fallow, unpaired, and unassigned."

One of the company's founders is John Muleta, the former head of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. The other co-founder is Milo Medin, who co-founded the @Home service in the mid-90s. According to the filing, the company has the backing of three venture capital firms: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Charles River Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures.

M2Z said in its filing that, in addition to the free service at 384 Kpbs, it would offer faster service for an added free. It said it would pay the U.S. government five percent of the revenues from that premium service. The slower service would be supported by advertising and, while free, would require users to purchase an inexpensive receiving device, the application states.

The company said in its filing that its free service was in the public interest and would benefit the public and spur competition.

"Grant of this Application would promote broadband deployment; yield near ubiquitous broadband access within 10 years of license grant and commencement of operation; and service the public interest, convenience and necessity," the company said in its grant application to the FCC," M2Z said in its filing.

"Consumers will benefit from the competitive spur that M2Z will provide to other broadband service providers, leading to increased innovation and competitive pricing," the company said. It also said that governmental public safety agencies could use the network for free.

M2Z said it would start the service within two years of being granted the license by the FCC. It said it would commit to covering one-third of the U.S. population within three years of starting its build-out and two-thirds of the U.S. population within five years. It pledged its service would cover 95 percent of the population within ten years.

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