Advanced Wireless Service-3 (AWS-3), which operates in the 2155-2180MHz band, sat around in the FCC closet collecting dust for more than a decade. No one seemed to want it until John Muleta and Milo Medin, co-founders of M2Z Net-works and, respectively, CEO and chairman of the board said something like, "if you're not using it, anyway, we'll take it off your hands."
Perhaps these two gentlemen saw something others didn't.
Prior to M2Z, Muleta headed up the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau from 2003 to 2005, where he was in charge of implementing the FCC's policies on consumer wireless services and public safety radio networks.
Medin was co-founder and CTO of @Home Networks, one of the first companies to offer nationwide cable modem service. Prior to that, Medin worked at NASA Ames Research Center.
For reasons that will become obvious, the major wireless service providers have studiously avoided AWS-3.
True, the bandwidth doesn't have a beach-front address, Muleta chuckles, meaning that it is not in the posh 700MHz range that allows signals to go through walls. But what it does have is more than enough to meet FCC requirements for free nationwide broadband delivery. Using its unique technology, M2Z expects to tap AWS-3 for 8 to 10 times more capacity than traditional cellular services deliver. Service speeds would start at 384Kbps download and 128Kbps upload -- about the same as low-end DSL.
As is the case in all stories, there are upsides and downsides to M2Z's AWS-3 aspirations.
The good news is that licensing for AWS-3 is contingent on service being free. Per FCC documentation:
Require the licensee to provide free, two-way broadband Internet service including:
-- engineered data rates of at least 768 kbps downstream using up to 25 percent of the licensee's wireless network capacity.
- an "always on" network-based filtering mechanism.
Require the licensee to provide for open devices and open applications for its premium service and open devices for its free service
By the way, this service must also be porn-free, again per the FCC:
(a) The licensee of the 2155-2188 MH band (AWS-3 licensee) must provide as part of its free broadband service a network-based mechanism:
(1) That filters or blocks images and text that constitute obscenity or pornography and, in context, as measured by contemporary community standards and existing law, any images or text that otherwise would be harmful to teens and adolescents. For purposes of this rule, teens and adolescents are children 5 through 17 years of age;