Free wireless Internet would be awesome:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is likely to consider a plan this month to auction public airwaves with a mandate that the winning bidder set aside some for free Internet nationwide, a proposal staunchly opposed by the cell phone industry.

The plan is championed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican whose time as chairman is waning as the Obama administration prepares takes office in January. Martin is expected to announce on Tuesday that his proposal will be considered at the commission’s Dec. 18 meeting…

Martin’s proposal is similar to one offered by startup M2Z Networks, a group backed by investors including venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

M2Z President John Muleta envisions consumers buying a router for free Internet access at midlevel DSL speed and paying a fee to upgrade to faster service. A lack of competition and rising prices for Internet services are creating consumer demand for cheaper service, he said.

Why not? The airwaves are owned by the public, after all. Broadcast television stations can’t charge consumers for their signals. This sounds like a natural extension of the advertising-supported broadcast model. Will be interesting to see if the cell phone industry can successfully defeat this proposal.

With a little competition, we might not have to pay to upgrade to faster service.