Would cover most of U.S., be supported by ads.

A Silicon Valley company has asked the FCC to allow it to use—free—a band of radio spectrum for a free high-speed wireless Internet network that would cover most of the country and be supported by advertising.

M2Z Networks, formed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, believes that its proposed venture would hasten broadband Internet use and lead to lower prices by spurring competition with cable and telephone giants that currently dominate the Internet market.

In its proposal, filed with the commission earlier this month, M2Z said it would need 20 megahertz of radio spectrum to send and receive wireless signals.

Traditionally, the fed auctions off sections of the radio spectrum to private companies to use for such transmissions as wireless Internet signals, mobile phone calls and broadcast TV.

In its 127-page filing with the FCC, The New York Times reports that M2Z said that the spectrum it sought was not scheduled for auction and could end up going to waste because it might not be easily used for other functions, like transmitting cell phone calls. But the spectrum would be enough to deliver the company's proposed free Internet access at 384 kilobits a second, about six times the speed of dial-up.

Bruce Sachs, a partner with the venture capital firm Charles River Ventures, one of three that backed M2Z, told the Times that the company expected to spend $1 billion over about 10 years on infrastructure that would cover 95% of the country. Investors have already committed $400 million for the construction, money that would come due only if the FCC agreed to give away the spectrum, the proposal says.

The company proposes to offer a premium service for $30 a month or less. M2Z has offered to give the government 5% of the revenue from this service.

An interesting side note: M2Z says it intends to include a filter with the free service that would block access to "indecent" material, a definition that Sachs said would be determined by the government.