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SaveTheInternet Coalition & Free Press: 250,000 Americans Urge the FCC: Use the Public Airwaves for the Public Good

JUNE 4, 2007
1:04 PM

CONTACT: SaveTheInternet Coalition / Free Press  
Craig Aaron, (202) 265-1490, x25

250,000 Americans Urge the FCC: Use the Public Airwaves for the Public Good
As FCC Decides Fate of Valuable Public Airwaves, Americans Demand High-Speed Wireless Internet that Is Open, Accessible and Affordable

WASHINGTON - JUNE 4 - More than a quarter-million Americans have urged the Federal Communications Commission to use a valuable slice of the public airwaves to make Internet access more open, affordable and accessible to everyone. The massive public outcry comes as the FCC prepares to set conditions on the auction of the newly available "700 MHz band" of spectrum.

Used correctly, these public airwaves could beam high-speed Internet signals to every park bench, coffee shop, workplace and home in America. But incumbent phone and cable companies want to cement their dominance of the high-speed Internet market by purchasing licenses to the spectrum. The FCC has the power to set auction rules that would protect competition and innovation in the marketplace and has done so in the past.

"The public is sending a clear message about the future of the Internet," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which coordinates the Coalition. "It would be a big mistake to hand over the airwaves to corporate gatekeepers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. The FCC can foster a better Internet for millions by opening our airwaves to real competition and innovation."

The FCC's comment period ends today. More than 250,000 comments were sparked by Coalition members Free Press, Civic Action and Working Assets Wireless. Another 5,000 people joined a Facebook group called "I want national wireless Internet!" that urged people to contact the FCC.

"These newly available airwaves are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize Internet access in our country," said Adam Green, communications director of Civic Action. "The FCC has a choice: use the public airwaves for the public good, or turn them over to self-interested corporations like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast who consistently stifle competition and innovation."

"We need more competition and innovation, not more of the same," said Michael Kieschnick, president of Working Assets Wireless, which has offered to buy out cell phone contracts of those fed up with the services of AT&T and Verizon. "America will continue to fall behind the rest of the world as long as we let these network giants dictate the terms of access for the majority of Americans."

Today, a group of more than 40 leading technologists, wireless innovators, civic organizations and others sent a joint letter to the FCC calling for new competition in the wireless market and "open networks." Last week, presidential hopeful John Edwards also sent a letter to the FCC urging that the public airwaves be used to make Internet access more available and affordable.

"New innovations in wireless technology could fundamentally transform Internet access and economic competitiveness in our country," said Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, who signed the letter. "It is crucial that the FCC not permit the public airwaves to fall captive to anti-competitive businesses with a financial interest in stifling such innovation."

In a filing last month, members of the Coalition including Consumers Union, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and Free Press urged the FCC to ensure that the upcoming auction sets aside at least half of the available spectrum for open and nondiscriminatory Internet access. This will guarantee that new competitors have the opportunity to enter the market with the dominant phone and cable providers that now control broadband access for more than 96 percent of U.S. residential users.

Read the letter from the national technology leaders here.

Edwards' letter can be viewed here.

Learn more about coalition member filings to the FCC here.


The Coalition is a grassroots, nonpartisan alliance of hundreds of groups, thousands of bloggers, and more than 1.6 million concerned Americans who have joined together to protect Internet freedom and Network Neutrality. No corporation or political party funds the coalition. Statements by the Coalition are not necessarily endorsed by every participating organization.


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