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FCC Approves Smut-Free Broadband Service

Washington – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued preliminary approval for the creation of a free, nation-wide broadband service in the AWS-3 band. One criteria for any providers wishing to utilize the new air wave is that it be absolutely free from all forms of obscenity and pornography. “AWS-3 means smut free” may become their new slogan. Though, probably not.

T-Mobile expressed serious concerns over the use of AWS-3 after having paid $4.2 billion for rights to the neighboring AWS-1 spectrum in 2006. They claimed that wide use of AWS-3 would affect service through disruption and interference, and demanded that the FCC run tests to determine if that were true and to what extent.

The tests were conducted in Seattle, Washington on September 3-5 using both AWS-1 and AWS-3 devices in operation. They have since concluded that the two bands will not interfere with each other significantly enough to warrant canceling the plans to move forward. A summary of the FCC’s final 21-page report stated, “The analysis shows that an AWS-1 and AWS-3 device operating in close proximity does not necessarily result in interference.”

The FCC has since given preliminary approval and has announced the go ahead plans. They will likely start auctioning off the spectrum for public consumption in the near future.

Companies who bid for the AWS-3 network will have to adhere to a graduated plan of implementation. The winning bidder will have five to complete 50% of the network. And within ten years they must have 95% completed. This plan includes not only the infrastructure, but also a necessary mechanism to filter out obscene or pornographic material, as is decided by “contemporary community standards.”

The AWS-3 band represents at 25 MHz swath of the frequency spectrum. The winning bidder must provide at least 25% of the band’s capacity to free broadband service. However, the remaining 75% can be fee-based. Both portions must be free from obscenity or pornography.

The winning bidder will be required to pay a small percentage of any revenues made by use of the band to the United States Treasury.

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