Martin pulls content filtering from broadband proposal

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has dropped the content filtering provisions from his proposal for a free wireless broadband service.

Previously, Martin had insisted that the free Internet proposal include methods to prevent users from accessing objectionable content such as pornography. The restriction drew widespread opposition from consumer groups who otherwise would have supported the measure.

However, in an interview with “Ars Technica”, the technical Web site, Martin said he had changed his mind. “I’m saying if this is a problem for people, let’s take it away,“ Martin said.

“A lot of public interest advocates have said they would support this, but were concerned about the filter,” Martin added. “Well, now there’s an item in front of the Commissioners and it no longer has the filter.”

Martin’s proposal, in the final days of his FCC chairmanship, received criticism and opposition from a variety of groups on both sides. While removing the censorship restrictions, he is still likely to receive opposition from the Bush administration and wireless telco companies. T-Mobile has argued that communicating data on the allocated frequency bands will cause interference and quality degradation.

Martin’s plan centers around part of the Advanced Wireless Services 3 band (2155MHz to 2180MHz) to be auctioned this year. The winning bidder would be required to create a free basic broadband service at a minimum speed of 768Kb/s, with half of the country covered after four years and 95 percent included after 10 years.

An FCC vote on the measure planned for December was delayed.