Commercial ISPs will have to compete with free service nationwide if a group of county chief executives has its way.
The County Executives of America (CEA), an association of over 700 member counties across the country, said Monday April 26 it plans to create a nationwide wireless broadband network to provide free service to residents using AWS-3 spectrum held by the FCC.
It has applied for $122 million in broadband stimulus bucks to launch the network in a dozen counties to start with, with Silicon Valley-based M2Z Networks building out the plant in each county.
The counties where ISPs could be facing new competition from the network first are Allegheny County, Pa.; Bronx County, N.Y.; Chambers and Kaufmann Counties, Texas; DeKalb County, Ga.; Kenosha County, Wis.; New Castle County, Del.; Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, Md.
CEA says that the biggest obstacle to adoption is cost, and that equal access to broadband by those who can't afford it is a "right of every American."
Currently the FCC doesn't plan on making the spectrum available until 2011, the group points out, but says its plan should spur the FCC to speed up that process.
Spokespeople for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski had no comment on the plan.