The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.
The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.
If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, connections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public WiFi could allow many consumers to make free calls from their mobile phones via the Internet. The frugal-minded could even use the service in their homes, allowing them to cut off expensive Internet bills.
“For a casual user of the Web, perhaps this could replace carrier service,” said Jeffrey Silva, an analyst at the Medley Global Advisors research firm. “Because it is more plentiful and there is no price tag, it could have a real appeal to some people.”
Sounds too good to be true? It is. This will die a quiet, lonely death. Republicans will never allow this to exist. They will block it until the telecoms can rally around a "grassroots" ad campaign that will show vast hordes of Those People using FREE OBAMA WIFI to watch porn, blow up churches, deal meth to preschoolers, get remote control abortion procedures, play violent video games and vote Democratic.
By the time the GOP is done with this nonsense, it'll be a near felony to have a social media account, and Republicans will be on TV screaming about how the real plan is to put America's phone companies out of business and destroy millions of jobs and will cost trillions of taxpayer dollars a month and how if you use his SOCIALIST ABOMINATION that Baby Jesus will die in your arms when the President's army of Twitter Cops track you down in real-time for insulting President Killwhitey McReparations so FREEDOM AND TREE OF LIBERTY AND DON'T TREAD ON ME.
On top of that as Jon Brodkin over ar Ars Technica reminds us, this FCC "White Spaces" plan has been sitting there for years and isn't going anywhere..and the above Washington Post story is mostly fantasy.
I saw the story this morning, read it, and was confused. Isn't this just the White Spaces proposal that's been around for a few years and has never once been pitched as "free Wi-Fi for all"? White Spaces may well be an important step toward expanding Internet access, but it isn't going to bring free Wi-Fi to every major US city.
It seemed no one was asking the most obvious question: who would build Wi-Fi everywhere and give it away for free? "It would cost money, so I don't see a path toward ubiquitous free Wi-Fi that is at an acceptable quality level," wireless engineer Steven Crowley told me in an e-mail today.
White Spaces takes the spectrum from empty TV channels and allows the airwaves to be used for Wi-Fi, or "Super Wi-Fi" as it's sometimes called. Using lower frequencies than traditional Wi-Fi, White Spaces signals would be better at penetrating obstacles and thus travel farther.
But the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) isn't going to build the network itself. The agency allocates spectrum for certain uses to spur private investment—someone else will have to find a reason to build it.
So why would wireless carriers build something that would put themselves out of business?
Above all, a national WiFi network would, you know, actually convinced tens of millions of people that the federal government can serve the greater good, and we can't have that. Besides, people might actually look up science on the internet and learn how the Earth isn't 6,000 years old with fossils planted by THE DEVIL, and then that will lead to slow dancing and then end of the universe. Even if it wasn't the overactive imagination of the Washington Post.
The story vastly overpromises what the FCC is planning, but don't worry, the same Republicans who insist President Obama gave away millions of government cell phones to buy votes will insist that taxpayer dollars will be used to give Those People free Super WiFi and this becomes the next Solyndra.
Count on it.