White House hates Martin's free Net plan

Bad week for FCC chairman Kevin Martin. First he has to suffer through a 110-page litany of his management failures and now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the White House is hard-set against his plan for free Internet.

Bad week for FCC chairman Kevin Martin. First he has to suffer through a 110-page litany of his management failures and now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the White House is hard-set against his plan for free Internet.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez sent this letter to Martin Wednesday:

The administration believes that the (airwaves) should be auctioned without price or product mandate. The history of FCC spectrum auctions has shown that the potential for problems increases in instances where licensing is overly prescriptive or designed around unproven business models.

Free market, anyone?

Martin is planning a vote on the scheme for free if slow Internet, coupled with porn barriers. Vendors would have to offer the free service and would get to offer faster, for-pay service as part of the deal.

Martin says the plan could result in a new competitor in the wireless broadband market and could help solve broad concerns about the lack of affordable high-speed Internet service across the U.S. The free wireless Internet plan is one of several proposals Mr. Martin has championed in the past year to encourage the spread of high-speed Internet service.

"We're reviewing the letter and it seems very similar to what (the Commerce Department) had put forth recently. We agree that market forces should help drive competition but we also believe that providing free basic broadband to consumers is a good thing," said Robert Kenny, an FCC spokesman.

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