FCC chairman wants to build a free nationwide Wi-Fi network

By on February 5, 2013, 7:30 AM

Update: Free Wi-Fi everywhere? Not so fast... It appears the original story and statements mislead us (and many others) to believe the government was interested in pursuing everywhere connectivity, but that's not the case. It's since been clarified that what the FCC is simply defending the white spaces proposal (circa 2008) that relates to spectrum allocation and unlicensed spectrum, which is quite different from having the government building a massive network of its own.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering building a "super" Wi-Fi network that would span the entire country, allowing citizens to surf the Internet or make VoIP calls free of charge. The plan is the brainchild of Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, according to a recent report from the Washington Post.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal is already facing stiff opposition from the wireless industry as lobbying efforts are already underway to convince policymakers to rethink the idea. In the opposite corner, companies like Microsoft and Google are voicing their opinions in favor of a nationwide free Wi-Fi network.

The two tech companies, as well as several others, believe a free Wi-Fi network could create an explosion of innovation and new devices that could benefit the majority of Americans – especially those living below the poverty line. After all, things like garage door openers and wireless microphones all came as a result of the government making certain unlicensed wireless airwaves available back in 1985.

The FCC wants to capitalize on unused spectrum from local television stations and broadcasters known as white space. This type of spectrum is much more powerful than what traditional Wi-Fi networks use, meaning the signals could penetrate thick walls as well as travel much longer distances. The commission envisions public networks that could blanket metropolitan areas and reach many rural communities as well.

If the network is approved, it would be the first of its kind in the world but it would take several years to build. Furthermore, without a governing body overseeing the network in major cities, it’s entirely likely that the network could often become oversaturated, rendering it completely useless.




User Comments: 14

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spencer spencer said:

I have a VERY bad feeling about this, Like their not going to spy on us.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Ouch. My wallet is hurting just thinking about this. Nothing is ever free that is supplied by the government. We've got bigger and more important cash-suckers to worry about first.

1 person liked this | wiyosaya said:

I have a VERY bad feeling about this, Like their not going to spy on us.

Like "they" are not spying on us already. What else does the NSA have to do besides spy on us?

Personally, I would welcome this. That would put an end to TWC's virtual monopoly in our area. We've no chance of Google fiber, FiOS or anything else supplanting TWC's monopoly in our area due to way outdated and abused telco laws. I bet it would cost far less in taxes than any current ISP takes from our pockets on a monthly basis. Just why do you think other countries pay far less for significantly better services?

Duckula22 Duckula22 said:

It shall be lobbied against :\

Raswan Raswan said:

This story has no basis in fact. See Ars for explanation of its origination.

cmbjive said:

"nationwide free Wi-Fi network."

I assume it will be just as cost controlling as Obamacare with the high quality to boot.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Hello American's, tinfoil hat much ?

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I am in favor of it. I live in Los Angeles, as is I pay up to my neck in taxes. Call me selfish, I love technology and I don't care about the nothing is free argument. I'm willing to protest in the streets if I have too.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I have a VERY bad feeling about this, Like their not going to spy on us.

What are you scared of.? So what if they find out we use 50% of the bandwidth for porn.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ouch. My wallet is hurting just thinking about this. Nothing is ever free that is supplied by the government. We've got bigger and more important cash-suckers to worry about first.

According to http://www.usdebtclock.org/ an individual citizen owes $184,447 of the Nation's debt. =(

I'm right there with you. It's sexier to pay down the debt before we buy toys.

wiyosaya said:

This story has no basis in fact. See Ars for explanation of its origination.

Yes, and so you are correct. Bummer!!

For anyone interested - [link]

Guest said:

" free nationwide Wi-Fi network", oh sure, I believe that. If it sounds to good to be true, it's b.s. and this my friends is one large load of b.s.

Guest said:

Yes it is welcome as it facilitates communication channels to those who have brains, but no penny to get access to information and knowledge. Also opportunity deprieved prove themselves worthy contributors for further. Economic and knowledge development, I believe.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I can't even drive on interstate without a dropped call on my cell phone. Nationwide wifi is decades away from being viable.

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