Free wireless broadband access coming to the US?

By Matthew ยท 61 replies
Mar 10, 2010
  1. Great news for Americans stuck with 56k: the US may soon offer free wireless broadband Internet. The idea is part of a new plan (PDF) intended to increase the number of Americans using broadband at home from 65% to 90%.

    Read the whole story
  2. ColdFusion1990

    ColdFusion1990 TS Rookie Posts: 124

  3. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,669   +1,102

    Free internet? I can already see the major providers in the US screaming from the "pain". ~evil laugh~
    Even a poor *** country like Romania (my country - east Europe) has very fast internet connections. (~6.2 Mbps) Cheap (around 10$ for 5Mbps, unlimited), fast and unlimited. - how i like it ^_^
  4. levar

    levar TS Rookie Posts: 229

    Its about time, Canada already has free wifi :| anyways I'm just wondering how fast its going to be... I'll be sure to follow up on this. Hopefully its not as slow as the free wifi McDonalds offer, or should I say At&t. Its about time wireless broadband became mainstream and seeing an increase from 60% to 90 :D whooo!!
  5. Concorde

    Concorde TS Rookie Posts: 37

    Why just the USA, the whole world would welcome such a move !
  6. cyrusjumpjet

    cyrusjumpjet TS Member Posts: 87

    Seems far-fetched for our country... for some reason I have a hard time seeing this work. Besides, I imagine all P2P sources would be blocked. What would be the point of having internet?! hah
  7. flocka

    flocka TS Rookie Posts: 40

    Was thinking the same thing
  8. Critias

    Critias TS Rookie

    This whole notion of free wireless internet, while it sounds very appealing, is a bit unrealistic at this time, both because of technical and economic issues.

    I don't know the exact way the phone companies provide DSL and wireless internet access, but I'm going to speculate here that if the phone/cable infrastructure remains the way it is right now, but the number of users changes from roughly 65% of the population to the planned 90%, everyone is going to get a significantly lower maximum speeds due to a much higher load on the grid.

    As it is, US internet infrastructure is somewhat below average when compared against some other countries, both in maximum speed capacity and the price per Mbps. Sure, there are a few 'elite' fiber optics providers in the major cities who can achieve very high speeds, but they also like to charge the 'elite' price for their services and are rarely worth it for the mainstream user. The problem is that due to the size of the country is is not economical for the phone companies to pay for the upgrade costs of in the rural areas. I believe the entire infrastructure is in need of a major upgrade, and the government should instead be making plans for a new centralized nationwide fiber optics network.

    Even if free wireless does get implemented eventually, it probably going to have cap on maximum data downloaded per month, 2/3 of the internet will be blocked (to save our fragile children's minds from the evil pron) and may very well lead to some new law on content filtering. Also it will be heavily supported by product advertisements, and lets face it, I get enough of these on normal cable TV, for which I already pay $90 per month (damn those cable companies).

    Maybe , sometime in the future, there will indeed be free wireless internet for everyone on the planet, with no content or speed limitations. Oh a man can dream.
  9. It'll be free alight, just not for the people above a certain income (who will subsequently pay for the "free" internet). Read about the web literacy program they're planning on implementing. Good stuff
  10. Clrabbit

    Clrabbit TS Rookie Posts: 90

    You're kidding right? P2P is not the main reason to use the Internet. There are massive amounts of Public domain books, news, History, Research, job/apartment listings, Easy to use maps/Drireactions, and nearly unlimited education & medical resources freely available on the WWW.

    you also have software like OOo and other Open sources software that would normally be to big of a file to Download on a on a 56k connection.

    Not even to mestion the usefulness of Blogs and Email in the modren world.

    Or shure information with family and firends though Flicher/Picasa, online clandaers, IM's...etc

    Participate and share information in BBS, IRC or Newsgroups.

    DL and Print goverment or most other forms with out having to waste the gas to go pick them up, or better yet fill them out and submit them digitaly.

    There are nearly an unlmited amount of things any body could benefit from having accesses to the internet. "Well any body with a computer or like device."
  11. z71kris

    z71kris TS Rookie Posts: 20

    I would look at it this way, lots of people jump to the free crap, the pay crap gets cheaper and faster as the companies look for ways to keep and get customers!
  12. compdata

    compdata TechSpot Paladin Posts: 529   +7

    The devil will be in the details. It would be awesome if they did this! But guess how many businesses would be totally against the idea. We will see what happens.
  13. So this means that the working middle class gets shafted again. Lower broadband speeds (due to the network load increase) and higher broadband prices (to pay for the "free" internet). Well that's just great... :(
  14. Tekkaraiden

    Tekkaraiden TS Evangelist Posts: 997   +93

    That's news to me and I live in Canada.
  15. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    So, in an economy where "creating jobs" is supposed to be the big push, they're going to introduce a plan that will potentially devastate the big internet providers and phone companies (who have built the entire wired foundation that is needed to make this happen), and cost the employees of those companies far more jobs than will be created by the process of putting the new wireless service in place? Somehow, I'm not thinking it'll happen in the purely socialist method they are envisioning.

    I'd say, let the private sectors put up the towers and establish the wireless network to run this, then regulate them to a very nominal fee for usage. At least they'd get some compensation for the billions they would lose from people jumping to the new alternative, and those nominal fees would help pay for maintenance and upkeep (so we don't have to pay more taxes to cover more deadbeats and freeloaders).

    On the plus side of the plan, I think the coverage potential of the wireless plan is wonderful. As someone who grew up in a small rural area that was fairly isolated, I can attest to how hard it can be to get decent broadband in a large percentage of the geographical US - if you don't live in a metro area, you are at the mercy of whoever wants to run the copper (or whatever satellite company you want to pay out the nose for spotty high-latency connections).
  16. natefalk

    natefalk TS Rookie Posts: 78

    I'm sort of in between on this one. I think if they can improve the infastructure so the speeds are reasonable and if they find funding for it with out increasing taxes or adding to the deficit, then I would think this is a good thing.

    It will not happen though. The ISP's will get together with the wireless providers and send an army of Lobbyists to make sure thier bottom line is healthy (see US Heathcare).

    If it did happen, I would certainly drop my cell phone provider and use my iTouch with a VoIP App instead.
  17. Docnoq

    Docnoq TS Booster Posts: 143

    Honestly, I don't see how a first-class country like the US has such crappy internet. I realize it would be very costly to lay the state-of-the-art infrastructure across the entire US, but it could at least be done in noticeable stages instead of disregarded. Of all the money provided by the stimulus and society's obvious dependence on the internet, it is hard to believe that none of the money was set aside to provide such an essential upgrade.

    If this 'free' wireless internet uses the existing infrastructure, the majority of us will suffer as our bandwidth is eaten up and prices increase.
  18. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    This sounds like a pretty serious security risk. Hopefully they come out with some better encryption methods for wireless data. It's hard to believe that they would provide the entire US with wireless when I dont even get a signal on my cell phone to make calls when traveling through farm lands in Indiana.
  19. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    I heard this as well, and I live in the US. Is it not true?
  20. LightHeart

    LightHeart TS Rookie Posts: 155


    Actually the main reason for the internet is to access TechSpot, right! Free Wireless sounds good but implementing it may be quite hard. With the Government behind it, it will take forever, have costs overruns, be monitored by Homeland Security, NSA, etc. and increase our taxes. I think it may be better for local cities to implement this if it's going to happen at all.
  21. The proposal is headed to congress, where the Republicans will oppose it like they do everything else, passing vicious rumors around and making cold-eyed threats. The Democrats will drop it and move on to the next sellout as soon as some senator from AT&T threatens a filibuster. Obama will shrug, claim he didn't campaign on that issue anyway, and go act charming on Leno's talk show. If anyone shows irritation, the Supreme Court will overturn 200 years of precedent to make sure no corporate cash flows are threatened. And the ruling ignorati will go back to watching American Idol or listening to drive-time radio as some right-wing opportunist pretends sneering is the same as wit.

    There. Now we can drop the subject, like congress will anyway.
  22. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 TS Booster Posts: 191   +46

    Seems like a good idea, the problem is i fear that it will affect the "freedom" of the internet. What happens to our privacy? As of now they can shut down your internet if you upload copyrighted material, how bad will that be abused if we all share the same wi-fi. And who will regulate that. To me these are very important questions.
  23. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Sounds to good to be true and not create problems =X .

    Wish my area in the US had that kind of prices. Sadly that'll never happen :( .

    Its because they don't upgrade everywhere but rather sit on that money, keep raising prices and then nickle and dime us with fees due to there monopoly that isn't considered a monopoly...
  24. raie_noire

    raie_noire TS Rookie Posts: 19

    This sounds amazing! they should do wimax though
  25. ludoboss

    ludoboss TS Rookie Posts: 18

    Net is the present and the future. Here in Italy, all have lot of fear of the Net. CIt's clear: law must be present, but the net for all it's a must. America 3 - Italy 0
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