Public wifi

Wow, this is a shocker. I was beginning to believe that the United States would never catch up with the rest of the world. Now it’s up to us to let our elected officials know voters are behind this latest proposal:

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.”

[…] The FCC’s plan is part of a broader strategy to repurpose entire swaths of the nation’s airwaves to accomplish a number of goals, including bolstering cellular networks and creating a dedicated channel for emergency responders.

Some Republican lawmakers have criticized Genachowski for his idea of creating free WiFi networks, noting that an auction of the airwaves would raise billions for the U.S. Treasury.

That sentiment echoes arguments made by companies such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Intel and Qualcomm, in a letter to the FCC staff late last month, that the government should focus its attention on selling the airwaves to businesses.

For once, maybe the government will actually do something for its citizens instead of big business. Stay tuned.

8 Responses to Public wifi

  1. jawbone February 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    The Senate minority will surely find a way to kill any public wifi efforts.

    Public wifi is something the rentiers will never tolerate. Their whole business plan is to rope people into never ending monthly –more or less– payments to them for services which become “necessities.”

    A hundred or so to one monopoly –or duopoly, but still the only or nearly only game in town– a hundred plus to another and another and another, until there’s no money for, oh, food.

    Used be such charges had some regulation. No more.

  2. Not Anonymous, though may as well be February 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Sounds like a ghastly idea to me, one marketed irresistibly to many as equal access and economic equality (and if our Government was actually concerned with those issues the country wouldn’t be in the hideous condition it’s in for so many falling through the cracks); ghastly for both privacy and health implications, and not at all similar to keeping up with the rest of the world:

    The problems with Smart Grids by B. Blake Levitt and Chellis Glendinning

    An excerpt:

    High I.Q.’s in Europe

    In 2007, Germany’s Environment Ministry issued a warning to German citizens to avoid wireless technology when possible and return to cabled means of communication. The French national library banned Wi-Fi in libraries when librarians became ill. And the European Environmental Agency called for action to reduce public exposure to radiation from mobile phones, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, and other antennas.

    In 2008 the European Parliament proposed publicly displayed maps of RF-contaminated areas so people could avoid them, while the U.K.’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers came out against Wi-Fi in classrooms.

    Sweden has declared some beaches and public buildings RF-free areas where cell phones and wireless computers cannot be used so that people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity — a form of environmental allergy that Sweden classifies as a functional disability — can take a breather from contamination.

    Individuals have also rallied. Spanish activists hold an annual International Day Against Electromagnetic Pollution. British and Irish citizens have taken to civil disobedience, bulldozing down cell towers. And Israelis have torn down cell towers with their bare hands and chased landlords who lease rooftops to tower companies through the streets.”

  3. quixote February 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    What would raise even more billions for the government and the people than the money from selling spectrum to Big Telco?

    Free public wifi. Just look at the money and benefits that came from the internet, while it was free.

  4. Not Anonymous, though may as well be February 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    “Free public wifi. Just look at the money and benefits that came from the internet, while it was free.”

    I can’t tell whether you’re speaking tounge in cheek or not, quixote?

    If you aren’t, I have to say that I’ve never witnessed any money and benefits to the public, emanating from the internet. Can you give an example? Something to refute the fact, for instance, that the dot.con boom did nothing, if not worsen, the downhill trajectory of us humans being able to ‘earn’ enough to keep a roof over our heads?

    what good is available data, for instance, when as we can clearly see, it has only had the effect of letting us know that the powers ruling things could care less whether they are relying on valid and humane data…

    the Net hasn’t done anything for the masses, other than to clarify that they/we are considered the enemy …and further intrude upon quiet humble and non violent conversations which were once honored behind closed doors , while thoroughly decimating the ability to attain a shelter paying job …if one has made any sort of protest against THE STATE.

  5. Ron February 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Yes, exactly, THE STATE booga, booga, booga. Free, accessible and open communication among the masses. I can’t think of anything more destructive . . . to Our Corporate Masters.

  6. Not Anonymous, though may as well be February 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Well Ron, I’m certainly not a Corporate Master, and I can’t think of anything more equivalent to our Corporate Masters, than The STATE, at this point. Just because it appears to damage telecoms and oligarchies, at a glance, does not make it so.

    Be careful what you wish for Ron.

  7. Not Anonymous, though may as well be February 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    (and just in case I need to clarify, I am not, Have Never Been, an Ayn Randian (or a Rethug), … against a moral and life sustaining government supported and allowed by the human beings which that government is supposed to represent; quite unlike the U$ guvernment.)

  8. Not Anonymous, though may as well be February 4, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    oh for fuck’s sake Ron, as a wee person, were you allowed a decision in that crab like red and blue “avatar” which is automatically presumed to represent you with no assent from you (or, even more importantly, anyone who is familiar with you) as to the depiction, for those new to the Net who may think you chose that DEPICTION?

    Yes, it is the little things in life that warn us of change which does not bode well, the same way it happens for other mammals, etcetera, who clearly know The Net WILL NOT SAVE THEM

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