New Plan to Bring You Wireless Web for Free

March 13, 2009 10:58:06 PM PDT
A computer whiz who made the move from the Central Valley to the Silicon Valley -- is working on a plan that could bring free internet service to everybody. Milo Medin has made quite a name for himself in the computer world and is one of the fathers of the broadband concept. This is Milo Medin ... A Fresno native and Silicon Valley Icon who has a dream. To bring high speed wireless internet service to just about everybody, and offer it for free. "We want build a third broadband network to compete with DSL and Cable," said Medin.

Milo's offices are in Menlo Park. But he says his desire to get everyone connected came as the result of an isolated childhood in rural Fresno County. "Where I grew up on a farm I was kind of disconnected. And when I went to school I didn't know any English. I spoke Yugoslav. When I went to elementary school I was really disconnected. And so there's a kind of soft spot I have for disconnected communities and disconnected people and disconnected cities and people who can't communicate who are basically isolated and I like fixing those kinds of problems," said Medin.

After graduating from Fresno's McClane High, where he first started tinkering with computers, it was on to Berkeley and a degree in computer science. He then went to work on supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore Labs and the onto NASA where he helped develop the technology that made the internet fast. In the 1980's Milo left NASA to start the At Home Network. The first company to provide high speed internet service over cable TV lines. Broadband was born. He now sees wireless broadband as the future and he thinks everyone needs access to it. "If you don't have access to broadband, its kind of like, you might have connectivity in school, but its kind of like having a text book you can only keep in your desk. You're not allowed to take it home, and that's a problem from the perspective of competitiveness," said Medin.

To solve the problem, Milo has formed a new company, M2Z Networks. He proposes offering free wireless broadband internet service to just about everybody. But he's run into problems. Phone and Cable companies make a lot of money charging for wireless internet service. They've fought his companies efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission to give up the spectrum, or radio frequencies he needs. "With this piece of spectrum we could offer we could to what we're talking about and help solve the digital divide, connect people together. And so it's a political process to get the government to actually release that spectrum, because the people who have it today, the phone companies, the cable companies do not want another option coming into the market, so it's just that simple," said Medin.

Unlike WIFI, which is available in coffee shops, and in some limited areas, like downtown Clovis, or the Fresno State Campus, Milo's service would reach 95 per cent of the country. And unlike cell phone internet connections which cost 50 bucks a month, M2Z would offer a free basic plan, supported by advertising, and a low cost version that is faster. He thinks it can be done, and be profitable. "Here in the Valley we believe that good ideas, good technology and good plans can't actually defeat kind of incumbents and old world thinking, that's how we make money here in Silicon Valley," said Medin.

Milo, and his company are hoping the FCC will auction the spectrum they need to provide this service. They are hoping the promise of free wireless for all, will soon come true.

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