M2Z's proposal for free wireless internet - Can you spell Neutrality?

A start-up called M2Z has asked the US government to give it a chunk of radio spectrum to give out free broadband wireless internet, which will be subsidized by advertising.

Personally, I shudder when people bring forth plans based on advertising revenues. Many are still recovering from the Internet Bubble burst although things seem to have evolved thanks to the Google phenomenon.

M2Z proposes to provide free internet access at 384Kbps, which is at the lowest end of what can be considered as Broadband. BT in Britain has come forward with a similar project although it has stopped short of asking for any kind of subsidy, opting for a partnership with the public sector instead.

M2Z says that it expects to spend on average $100m annually over the next decade to cover 95% of the US, which when put in perspective represents only $4 over the whole period.

So what’s the catch? The company wants to offer a 3MB/s wireless access for $30, out of which the US government is expected to earn $18 a year per user.

This is an interesting proposal but I wonder why the US government would buy into it. It would put broadband within the range of the poor and provide a fantastic opportunity for those who rarely go online to experience fast internet.

But at the same time, it would clash with the traditional telcos which have very, very powerful lobbyists in the White house.