The Federal Communications Commission may require the winner of airwaves being auctioned off by the government to provide free wireless high-speed Internet service across a large swath of the country. "We're hoping there will be increased interest (in the proposal) and because this will provide wireless broadband services to more Americans it is certainly something we want to see," said FCC spokesman Rob Kenny. Kenny stated he didn't know when the auction would be held and details must still be worked out. However, he said the resulting network must reach 50 percent of the population four years after the winner gets a license and then 95 percent after 10 years.
Under the plan, the winning bidder would provide free high-speed service on a small portion of the spectrum that potentially could be available on millions of Americans' phones and laptops. Jessica Zufolo, a telecom analyst with Medley Global Advisors, said the plan is "risky." "While it (the public interest component) is hugely laudable and really fulfills a lot of public policy objectives of both Congress and the FCC, from a business standpoint it's very difficult to justify."