The Federal Communications Commission in the United States (equivalent of Ofcom here) on Friday announced its proposal for free wireless services to cover the U.S. using what it calls 'Advanced Wireless Services.' The term is a general one used to describe a variety of wireless technologies and could include the deployment of 3G mobile broadband for example.
The proposal seeks to auction off 25MHz of spectrum in the 2.1GHz range which would receive a nationwide license with the operator required to deploy a two-way broadband services with a downstream data rate of at least 768Kbps which is available for free use. The operator would also be able to use the spectrum to provide pay-for services. Certain stipulations do apply such that the operator must provide service to at least 50% of the U.S population within 4 years, and have 95% coverage by the end of the 10 year license term.
The idea of ubiquitous free broadband is nice, even if the speed offered is quite low. Whilst more than enough for today's simple web browsing, in 5 years time 768Kbps may seem totally inadequate, however the service would hopefully adapt as technology improves to offer more bandwidth in the same parameters. Currently, the proposal is at the comment stage, but it will be interesting to follow to see whether network operators are willing to pick it up, and see if maybe something similar could be adopted for the UK. More details in the FCC release (PDF).