M2Z Vote Whipsawed by Politics

logo1Updated: M2Z’s wait will continue, because the FCC canceled its Dec. 18 meeting, leaving the issue of free, filtered wireless broadband a likely topic for the next chairman to tackle. As broadband is a key element in President-elect Barack Obama’s recovery plan, there’s hope.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Henry Waxman today went after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin over the focus of the agency’s upcoming meeting, set for Dec. 18th, on measures that aren’t urgent or required by law. As a result of their pressure,¬†controversial measures such as the AWS-3 auction to create a nationwide free, filtered wireless network, as well as cable carriage reform, could get booted from the agenda. The elimination of the AWS-3 decision would be a¬†blow for startup M2Z networks, which has been peddling its two-tiered wireless broadband network since 2006.

A report out from investment bank Stifel Nicolaus, which reported on the letter, says, “We believe the call from the FCC’s two key incoming congressional overseers will prompt the agency to put most matters on hold…Most notably, we believe that most of the draft items on the agenda for the FCC’s December 18 meeting, many of which were already controversial, are now in even greater jeopardy. ” On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who also serves as President Bush’s principal adviser on telecommunications and information policy issues, sent a letter to the FCC asking it to delay the AWS-3 decision.

M2Z quickly issued a statement saying that the Waxman/Rockefeller letter is not an attempt to squash the AWS-3 auction, and pressed its argument that delaying the decision any further violates federal law, which appears to have required a decision on the AWS-3 auction before Sept. 6 of this year. Yeah, that date has already long passed, something that no one other than M2Z seems terribly worried about. This is why I always doubt the success of any wireless technology tied to regulation. Because for every Craig McCaw, there are plenty of stories like M2Z’s.