Julius Genachowski and his Federal Communications Commission have proposed a first-of-its-kind plan: create a freely accessible wireless internet service that would be available throughout the United States. Though it might take several years to roll out, it could potentially replace the home broadband connections we pay for, as well as facilitate other wireless-data technologies like free voice calls, networked medical devices, and driverless cars.
The "super-Wifi" would use a portion of the wireless spectrum currently used by television broadcasts, which has significantly more penetrative power than the current wi-fi spectrum. This would make it possible for the signal to travel greater distances and pass through buildings and other obstacles.
Companies that make their money from consumer telecommunications are not thrilled about the idea, as one might guess. According to the Washington Post, Verizon, Intel, AT&T, Cisco, and others have opined that the spectrum should be auctioned to businesses rather than used for the FCC's proposed plan. "We think that that spectrum would be most useful to the larger society and to broadband deployment if it were licensed," an Intel executive says.
But Google and Microsoft have weighed in on the side of the proposal, arguing that, in addition to its immediate benefit to users, free national internet access would make possible a nation of smart networked devices, "millions of devices that will compose the coming Internet of things."
I love and adore the word FREE.
Free is such a beautiful word.
Now, I like to remind people of the free Trojan horse, lol.
FYI, radio signals are free to listen to and if the government has powerful enough computers to
crack encryption, it just makes it easier for NSA to monitor all communications. And yes NSA does monitor all communications in the world, in real time.
And yes this will bother the TV cable companies, Satellite TV companies and cell and telephone companies too.
So the question is, why back stab these companies and make this communication free to the public?
Nothing is truly free; I wonder what the real catch is?
Of course Google and Microsoft are for it. That is free access to their services. It's like how car companies would be in favor of free gas - who wouldn't buy a car if the gas was free?
And of course the companies that normally sell this are against it. They have a personal stake. But what will give us a better outcome?
Let's look at it from an economic perspective. What would it cost to create the vast broadcasting network across the country? Can they use the TV-broadcast towers in place? Will they require updating? What will they use to receive data? (Internet requires 2-way communication).
Will the government pay for this massive plan? How much will it cost? How much bandwidth will each person get? (If its free, people will use it without limit. But since it is not unlimited, it will have to be rationed). If a tower goes down, how long before it is back up? Will the government provide enough bandwidth to put 'premium' internet service providers out of business, or will business coexist for people that desire higher amounts of data? Where will the innovation and improvement of infrastructure and technology come from without businesses with a profit motive?
With 4G, we're already moving ever-closer to universally available internet. If the government opens up these frequency ranges, the price of it can go down further. The longer this goes on, the cheaper data plans will become. I'd estimate within 15 years, people will have sufficient, or even unlimited data, for a paltry cost. Certainly less, in aggregate, it would cost for the government to provide us a "free" internet.
And instead of it being another national infrastructure to be politicized, selectively maintained, and degrade, it will be a profitable business that will constantly be upgrading service or downgrading cost to remain competitive.
Open up the frequencies. Make it cheaper for the companies already attempting this without a huge government expenditure and burden.
I have hoped for something like this for a long time. Free for everyone could be a entry level deal where people and things get enough bandwidth for basic email, texting clients, light web surfing, and for my refrigerator to order more milk. We could then cut out the middle men (ATT etc.) wrapping infrastructure costs into content. I'd happily pay a little more for my Netflix to cover a 'infrastructure tax', not unlike paying a gas tax for highway upkeep, that would more accurately reflect individual usage. I admit though that many details would have to ironed out to protect net neutrality.
I don't know all that much about it. But the signal has a greater range, so more consumers will be dependent on one signal, which must slow down the internet connection quite a bit. In thinly populated rural areas it will be O.K.
Please, No! Once the government gets a hold of the technology, you can say goodbye to innovation for the next several decades.
I love the idea of having wifi more readily available in terms of locations and more people.
But those are the only visible benefits. Let's consider the unseen, the costs.
Here are a few:
* For starters, who pays for this and how?
* Is this spending worthwhile, and how would politicians be able to know that, given that they are spending others money? Sure this is good PR for politicians, but does it make economic sense? How badly do you miss wifi when you are out of range?
* What about areas that are less densely populated? Is it really worth it to spend there, even for less benefit? Conversely for densely populated areas (will the wifi be slow)?
* With government controlling wifi infrastructure, what are the side effects on censorship (or temptation of censorship) and on competition and innovation (other wifi efforts)?
We have "free" highways right?? Why not "free" wifi??
It would do to commerce what the interstate highway system did to our economy. Since when did the interests of a few telcos take precedence over the evolution of our national infrastructure???
Sorry, but MaBell and her children and grandchildren will not allow this to happen.
See, the interstate system was built by the gov. to encourage interstate growth/trade and increase auto sales as it was driven by Ford's desire to sell mroe cars - I do not need to repeat what is already well documented.
If there is free nwifi: VOIP(like vonage) takes off for phones, which will kill telcoms who want us on over priced long term contracts.
Cable COmpaniese (Att, Cox etc) will not want it to happen because of the long term overpriced internet access they provide PLUS the waterfall effect of cable television subscriptions actually going down much more rapidly as content is easier and more selective vie internt.
It can be done, but its not going to happen. Sadly, Orwell was wrong, its not the government taht is going to control us, its going to be the big corporations!
The interstate highway system is an interesting analogy. It has certainly contributed to the growth of the American economy. Prior to its construction the U.S. didn't have many decent high-speed roads linking major cities. In contrast, however, the U.S. has lots of network infrastructure in place right now that reaches virtually every home and business; built almost entirely by private enterprises. Everywhere I want to be connected I can be, and I pay for it.
As several have pointed out already, there is no such thing as "free". Why would we as taxpayers want to pay an inefficient government bureaucracy to monopolize our data infrastructure and kill innovation? So the people who don't want to pay for internet service can have it at home instead of walking--or taking the bus or subway--to their local library or free Wi-Fi hotspot at, say, Starbucks?
The better analogy is the Bell Telephone company. Prior to its breakup and deregulation--thanks to Ronald Reagan--service was poor, rates high, and innovation stagnant, at least compared to the explosion in competition, improved service, lower rates, and incredible innovation that followed.
Sure, we could go back to the Ma-Bell-monopoly, Soviet-style central management of vital digital infrastructure, or we could leave it the way it is: vibrant, competitive and innovative.
LOL Does anyone actually think that this, like any other government service, is actually free? We still pay for it, in taxes, of course!
Anyone who loves technology and has seen how a DMV or any other government office works should be starkly against it. I would predict terrible quality of service overall.
I don't want to get into the discussion of whether govt SHOULD be doing this, as we all have different opinions on that.
But on just a technical basis, all the government wireless networks I've ever been on have been some of the worst and slowest I've ever used.
I just don't think any serious technologist would think this is a good idea, on a technology level.
I forgot to mention the biggest reason of all to keep the government out of Wi-Fi or the Internet: cost containment.
When private companies provide Internet service and Wi-Fi they manage the costs, otherwise they'll go out of business. When the federal government "provides" services--as we've seen numerous times--they do so poorly, and pay for the inefficiency by "borrowing" more money every year.
For those who are math-challenged, borrowing money to pay for things may not seem to affect you right now, until suddenly it does, usually in catastrophic ways. Remember the collapse of the housing market and the Great Recession of 2008?
The cost would be bupkis - so close to zero that it ain't worth listing.
While the current bandwidth of white space is small the longer range would be good out of built up areas. In those we use fiber to the block adding additional fiber at a 50 bucks a mile to the NERC mandated smart meter communication builds. A $200 802.11AC router for 1 Gbps max service or a $10 802.11g unit for 54 Mbps max at the end of the cable - its all good.
The more we are independent in life, the freer we become. The more we depend upon the government, the more power the fascism state becomes.
This new Trojan horse is going to sucker in many people.
Free enterprise is always the better solution.
By the way, there really is no free highway system. We pay for it with our taxes. Second, it has often been talk about in the government of how to tax the internet and this will be the path to doing it. Remember, our government is broke and they need a solution. HELLO!
First of all, understand this: The government doesn't have money!
So how can I provide any service for free?
Whatever money it has, it takes it from someone else, you and me.
I agree with laurenra7, why would we want government to get involve and alter the market dynamics of a free market. It would only be less efficient, more costly and more regulations than necessary.
The analogy with interstate highway is a poor example.
Interstate highway requires tremendous capital with slow returns over decades. For this reason, a lot of investors are not willing to build them because the returns are not worth the investments. That is why government step in and build it. Even then, toll roads still exists.
With internet access, the investment is not as great and the returns can be profitable for entrepreneur to invest in.
Government should only be involve to stimulate innovations, and clear the way for private entrepreneurs to lead.
For example, if internet access is so costly and its return is unpredictable that NO ONE is willing to invest in the infrastructure, then YES, I firmly believe that the government should step in and do whatever is necessary such as subsidization. This is not the case.
Space exploration is one area that government did a good job funding and will not leave it to private companies to tackle on.
who needs free healthcare when you have free internet
Don't fall for it sucker! Nothing is ever "free" from your govt. CONTROL is what they want over YOUR life!
I'll believe it when I see it.
The BIG Telecoms won't allow it.
They have way more clout than you think.
Cool idea, but I think the FCC should focus on making it easier to create new cable, satellite, mobile & ISP companies. Better competition will make TV, mobile & Internet service cheaper/better. Also, if a TV is broadcast on a subscription based system (i.e cable/satellite), there should be no ads.
Free WiFi is a great idea. Free anything is a great idea. But in reality, it starts to break down. FIrst, it's not free, tax payers are still going to be paying for it. When we have a government that is already trillions in debt, do we really want them to take on these additional costs? How will they make back the investment? Maybe if they then gave out free secure, government email and then did away with the USPS, I could maybe get behind it as far as costs go. But that's not the only problem.
There are the bandwidth concerns, how much will everybody get?
What about support on the network? Ever have to talk to someone at the DMV, make a complaint at the Post Office, or have to wait while your local DOT does road construction? Do we really want to rely on those same people for our internet access?
And then there are the privacy concerns. At least if you have another provider, the government has to as them for any information, but if it's their own network? Likewise, what if you want to download a torrent? Will the government allow that?
Overall, I don't think it's a good idea, or at least, not yet.
I don't think CenturyLink would be too thrilled with this either since DSL is a mainstay of it's business via fiber optics which would be hurt big time.
If universal free wifi is something that Google and Microsoft want, it's probably going to happen. A network of smart networked devices is going to come and it'll certainly be a lot easier to achieve if they can all get connected without worrying about monthly fees.
When will the government start giving away free bags of money? They already gave to the banks free money!
Free, Free, FREE!
Oh, how I adore Free.
But this is a childhood fantasy and has nothing to do with reality.
La La La...... Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
It's about time, the service providers are charging way more than the actual cost of service. Look at the companies that are using (renting) the same infrastructure and charging half as much for unlimited use. The service providers are using much of what extra they charge, for upgrades and research money at no costs to them while being able to add more users and services (which they charge for). Rates continue to rise for services rather than go down. In no way will I believe that service providers will charge less if they were able to use the bandwidth the government plans for wi-fi.
(1) Nothing is ever free. This simple moves from a subscription service to a taxpayer funded service. Thus, if you are too poor to pay taxes this is a boon. If you have a job, the loss of your phone bill will be replaced by twice that in taxes.
(2) Since this is government, it will put a premium on being "equal." That is great news for those of us who live in the boonies, but if you live in the city, you won't get upgraded services until they get whatever the current level of service is all the way out here.
(3) This does give the FCC control over CONTENT, not just access. That is a huge leap in information gathering that can be done on you. The Feds can already turn on your phone and use it to watch/listen in on your life without even seeming like it is on. Do you really want that much connectivity with your TV, radio, computer, coffee maker, and lighting system?
ON THE OTHER HAND
(1) As mentioned, driverless cars become much more feasible.
(2) You would have a movement to centralized communication tech (phone, net, TV, etc) all from one place. This would be an efficiency jump (but, oh the taxes!).
(3) If isn't like the Fed don't already have a database of most of your life already.
I'm with Robot, avoid free beer and chicken
From Ars Technica's "No, free Wi-Fi isn't coming to every US city":
"The headlines were literally too good to be true, and so outlandish no one should have written them in the first place. "FCC Proposes Free Wi-Fi For Everyone In The US," Popular Science reported. "FCC wants free Wi-Fi for all," said The Daily Caller. On Mashable, it was "Government Wants to Create Free Public 'Super Wi-Fi'," and Business Insider breathlessly reported, "Telecom Corporations Are Trying To Stop The Government From Offering Free 'Super Wi-Fi'""
"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."
"In response to that tweet, Brito wrote: "Oh. You mean there’s no new plan? It’s the same incentive auction NPRM [notice of proposed rule-making] we’ve been talking about for months? And the only new things are (largely predictable) public comments filed last week? Well that’s a bummer. Not to worry, though, I’m sure the WaPo and Mashable and Business Insider and all the rest will be quick to clarify all of the confusion."
Brito also wrote that the spectrum the Post wrote about "couldn’t possibly be used for a nationwide wireless network.""
You really should read the Washington Post article (and watch the video) that this article was based on.
This has NOTHING to do with the federal government designing, building or operating a free Wi-Fi network. It's simply an objective to open up more spectrum for license-free use to promote the same sort of innovation we saw with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the ISM band, but this time in old TV spectrum that would encourage yet another round of private industry innovation. I see this as a MUCH better alternative than auctioning spectrum to network monopolists like AT&T who have no real incentive to widely deploy the technology.
So let's look at who will build the networks. It will be businesses, like McDonald's & Starbucks did with Wi-Fi. It will be cities like Austin, which already has free Wi-Fi in much of the city, and Dallas, which uses its free Wi-Fi to connect visitors in the convention district, but with fewer access points and the ability to extend the signal into restaurants and other buildings. It will be electric utilities for remote meter reading and energy management. It will be apartment buildings and home owner associations as an amenity. There are many more examples.
Who will build the equipment? All sorts of companies - even more than with today's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The chips will go into smartphones, cars, health & fitness equipment, home appliances (even light bulbs, I suppose since Wi-Fi is already there in some).
About chip sets and device manufacturers... Smart radios already support multiple frequencies and protocols (3G, LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth, ANT+, etc). Adding new frequencies for TV white space frequencies and old broadcast TV spectrum is relatively trivial. Smart radios are also able to detect and avoid interference from adjacent networks, which is a main reason the FCC is able to open up more spectrum for unlicensed use.
About bandwidth... Physics shows us that as networked devices get closer to each other, both security and transmission speed increases. That holds true for both wired and wireless networks. But for now and the foreseeable future, fiber-optic networks will have vastly more capacity and security, so I remain a fan of fiber-to-the-home. Think, however, of what happens with wireless mesh networks, where each device acts as an access point and repeater, and where they can be placed on light poles that already have electricity, or in solar-powered parking meters, or even embedded in the stripes in the road so your car is never further than a few feet away.
The mesh topology has been around for years and is used in homes and commercial office buildings to connect all sorts of devices, where relatively low-power signals can jump from one device to the next and the next to reach across the largest of homes or buildings.
The FCC's plans to open up more unlicensed spectrum will encourage much more innovation than I've even hinted at.
As for incumbent network operators like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner, they will eventually need to figure out what sort of business they want to be in -- network operator carrying all content and apps, or service provider running on a variety of networks. The FTC could likely crack down on monopolies who exploit control of their private network to also dominate services that run on the networks.
THANK YOU mHealthTalk!!!
Lot's of small minded talk about Govt this and Govt that. I had how some folks so easily tend to oversimplify everything.
And contrary to what some have stated above, there has been little or no innovation in the broadband arena here in the US. I only have 1-2 options wherever I am. It's either comcast, or AT&T. I still have to pay too much for when either one of them offers (slow, terrible, overpriced, connections).
Opening this spectrum up will fully Democratize the process. This is not about Govt run WiFi. This is about letting people, public organizations and municipalities naturally build and run their own networks where private corporations fail to provide a quality service because there is no competition.
Our municipalities already have to provide street lighting, water, waste and drainage management. The infrastructure needed to support this is largely implemented already: think access points installed in street lights. Opening this spectrum up will enable communities to put forward such services, and if citizens are happy with AT&T/Comcast then they can vote the measure down on their local ballot. Either way the FCC serves the citizens and not the corporations. It also becomes a selling point for a lot of cities that implement these progressive efforts.