FCC Proposes Public Wi-Fi

The FCC (that’s Federal Communications Commission, which everyone either knows already or needs to know) has proposed creating ‘super Wi-Fi networks’ across the country.  In other words, these networks would be vast, powerful, and open to everyone– and, yes, in other words, that would hypothetically mean no bills for wireless or cell phone use.  It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this proposal is still very hypothetical, and also that, since the FCC is a government agency, the money would to be coming from somewhere, and it ain’t gonna be charity.

So far as I can tell, the Washington Post was the first to break this story, as the small handful of articles I’ve read on it all cite the Washington Post (as am I.)

And yes, even though this proposal is still in the very early stages, the telecommunications companies are already taking a stance on it– and you can probably guess which side of the fence most of them are on when it comes to this proposal.

On the other hand, Google and Microsoft have already publicly announced support for such a plan, stating that they believe it would spur innovation.  It’s pretty easy to see the pattern here– Service providers could ostensibly lose tons of income from a public super-network, whereas increasing the availability of wireless Internet could seemingly give a boost to companies like Google and Microsoft, whose business models rely on people having Internet access.

According to the Washington Post article, the airwaves for the public network would additionally come from local TV stations and other broadcasters, who would “be forced to sell a chunk of airwaves to the government.”  WaPo also adds, “It is not clear whether these companies would be willing to do so.”

The article admits that any such network is still a few years out of existence, and a firestorm of debates, lobbying, and protests from both sides are sure to ensue, should the federal government begin taking action on this proposal.

Here is a link to the original WaPo article: