FCC to pitch free or low-cost Web service as part of broadband plan

Federal officials now seem to be considering ways to create "a free, or very low-cost wireless broadband service" for Web users who cannot afford more expensive broadband coverage.

The Federal Communications Commission briefly pitched the idea following this week's Digital Inclusion Summit, a forum that focused on ways to extend broadband coverage to the millions in the United States who still lack it.

Ultimately, the FCC provided little details of that ambitious access plan, versions of which some state and local lawmakers have also pitched, and in many cases, have promptly abandoned.

But the FCC did note in a statement on Tuesday that it was one of many ideas it has included in its forthcoming National Broadband Plan, due to congressional lawmakers next week. 

“In order to ensure long term American competitiveness and prosperity, we must not leave one-third of the nation behind,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in the statement, repeating his agency's goal of achieving 90 percent broadband penetration by 2020.

“The National Broadband Plan provides a vision for federal, state and local leadership and partnerships with the private and non- profit communities that will bridge the digital divide and transform America into a nation where broadband expands opportunities for all,” he said.