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Old 02-04-2013, 05:00 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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FCC ready to propose an effort towards a nationwide WiFi free-for-all.

This is extraordinarily ambitious.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/busine...5ee_story.html

Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposes large public WiFi networks
By Cecilia Kang
Feb 03, 2013 11:41 PM EST

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, con*nections 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 major wireless carriers own much more spectrum than what is being proposed for public WiFi, making their networks more robust, experts say.

Designed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the plan would be a global first. When the U.S. government made a limited amount of unlicensed airwaves available in 1985, an unexpected explosion in innovation followed. Baby monitors, garage door openers and wireless stage microphones were created. Millions of homes now run their own wireless networks, connecting tablets, game consoles, kitchen appli*ances and security systems to the Internet.

“Freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free-market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future and benefits consumers,” Genachow*ski said in a an e-mailed statement.

Some companies and cities are already moving in this direction. Google is providing free WiFi to the public in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and parts of Silicon Valley.

Cities support the idea because the networks would lower costs for schools and businesses or help vacationers easily find tourist spots. Consumer advocates note the benefits to the poor, who often cannot afford high cellphone and Internet bills.

The proposal would require local television stations and other broadcasters to sell a chunk of airwaves to the government that would be used for the public WiFi networks. It is not clear whether these companies would be willing to do so.

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.

Some of these companies also cautioned that a free WiFi service could interfere with existing cellular networks and television broadcasts.

Intel, whose chips are used in many of the devices that operate on cellular networks, fears that the new WiFi service would crowd the airwaves. The company said it would rather the FCC use the airwaves from television stations to bolster high-speed cellular networks, known as 4G.

“We think that that spectrum would be most useful to the larger society and to broadband deployment if it were licensed,” said Peter Pitsch, the executive director of communications for Intel. “As unlicensed, there would be a disincentive to invest in expensive networking equipment and provide users with optimal quality of service.”

Cisco and other telecommunications equipment firms told the FCC that it needs to test the airwaves more for potential interference.

“Cisco strongly urges the commission to firmly retreat from the notion that it can predict, or should predict . . . how the unlicensed guard bands might be used,” the networking giant wrote.

Supporters of the free-WiFi plan say telecom equipment firms have long enjoyed lucrative relationships with cellular carriers and may not want to disrupt that model.

An FCC official added that there is little proof so far that the spectrum that could be used for public WiFi systems would knock out broadcast and 4G wireless signals.

“We want our policy to be more end-user-centric and not carrier-centric. That’s where there is a difference in opinion” with carriers and their partners, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is still being considered by the five-member panel.

The lobbying from the cellular industry motivated longtime rivals Google and Microsoft to join forces to support the FCC’s proposal. Both companies would benefit from a boom in new devices that could access the free WiFi networks.

These companies want corporations to multiply the number of computers, robots, devices and other machines that are able to connect to the Internet, analysts said. They want cars that drive themselves to have more robust Internet access.

More public WiFi, they say, will spur the use of “millions of de*vices that will compose the coming Internet of things,” the firms wrote in their comment to the FCC last week.

“What this does for the first time is bring the prospect of cheap broadband, but like any proposal it has to get through a political process first,” said Harold Feld, a vice president at the public interest group Public Knowledge.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:01 PM   #2
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:27 PM   #3
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.
So, this magic section of the spectrum can go through concrete but has to go around trees?

In case anyone is wondering... (thoughI doubt it since this is pretty old news actually) this is the FCC deciding what to do with the old UHF band that is almost completely phased out now.

My opinion is... the FCC should set aside a small portion for public use, another portion to license and keep another in reserve until we see how things shake out. In all likelihood, this is what will happen unless big-Telecom crushes it.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AustinChief View Post
So, this magic section of the spectrum can go through concrete but has to go around trees?
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:17 AM   #6
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:37 AM   #7
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Maybe next we can all get free bicycles!
NO! too much work, gimme a Porsche please.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #8
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I going to see a lot more details to see if this is a good thing or not. Especially coming from the government.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:42 AM   #9
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http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the...-in-free-wi-fi

The FCC Wants to Blanket the Country in Free Wi-Fi (Update)
By Derek Mead

Internet access is an essential need on par with education access, but at what point do regulators recognize that? When will government officials acknowledge that widespread, guaranteed access is essential to fostering growth in the country? Somewhat surprisingly, that time is now, as the FCC is now calling for nationwide free wi-fi networks to be opened up to the public.

The FCC proposes buying back spectrum from TV stations that would allow for what the Washington Post is dubbing "super wi-fi," as the commission wants to cover the country with wide-ranging, highly-penetrative networks. Essentially, you can imagine the proposal as covering a majority of the country with open-access data networks, similar to cell networks now, that your car, tablet, or even phone could connect to. That means no one is ever disconnected, and some folks–especially light users and the poor–could likely ditch regular Internet and cell plans altogether.

As you might expect, telecom providers, as well as equipment manufacturers and even firms heavily invested in the cell phone market, like Intel, aren't interested in shaking up the current model that's securely lucrative. From the Post:

Quote:
Cisco and other telecommunications equipment firms told the FCC that it needs to test the airwaves more for potential interference.

“Cisco strongly urges the commission to firmly retreat from the notion that it can predict, or should predict . . . how the unlicensed guard bands might be used,” the networking giant wrote.

Supporters of the free-WiFi plan say telecom equipment firms have long enjoyed lucrative relationships with cellular carriers and may not want to disrupt that model. [...]

“We want our policy to be more end-user-centric and not carrier-centric. That’s where there is a difference in opinion” with carriers and their partners, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is still being considered by the five-member panel.
Google and Microsoft both support the proposal, largely because more internet access means more potential users. And, as Google and Microsoft have argued, opening up the wireless market to all will help spur a massive boom in innovation. Self-driving cars are nearly here, as we saw at CES, and one of the major things still holding them back is connectivity; it's not hard to teach a car to drive itself down the road, but it takes serious networking capability to teach it to drive nicely with others. Blanketing the country in wi-fi that doesn't require numerous licensing deals could allow that.

That aside, the potential benefits to citizens are immense, as discussed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its campaign to unlock wi-fi from the user side. And beyond what the EFF is doing, the FCC could make huge strides towards closing the immense rural internet gap. Really, the FCC's plan, which would be the first of its kind in the world, would be a massive leap forward in the Internet age, where something that's a basic requirement for anyone to succeed these days is finally acknowledged as such.

Update: In an email, a FCC spokesperson clarified that the proposal in question was initially introduced as part of an incentive auction program that has the potential to open up parts of the spectrum owned by TV stations. Only if those bands open up will a nationwide network be possible, which requires the owners of those bands to sell them back to the FCC.

“The FCC’s incentive auction proposal, launched in September of last year, would unleash substantial spectrum for licensed uses like 4G LTE," wrote the spokesperson. "It would also free up unlicensed spectrum for uses including, but not limited to, next generation Wi-Fi. As the demand for mobile broadband continues to grow rapidly, we need to free up significant amounts of spectrum for commercial use, and both licensed and unlicensed spectrum must be part of the solution.”
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:48 AM   #10
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...every-us-city/

No, free Wi-Fi isn't coming to every US city
When bad journalism strikes: the big story of the day was completely false.
by Jon Brodkin
Feb 4 2013, 6:45pm CST

An amazing story circulated today through much of the mainstream media and tech press. The US government is going to build gigantic Wi-Fi networks across the country, giving free Internet access to everyone.

Or perhaps the US would somehow force wireless providers to build these networks—in which case, it's not clear why this amazing new Internet service would be free, unless the goal was to destroy the entire business model of both cellular carriers and Internet service providers in one fell swoop.

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'"

It all originated from one Washington Post report with the less-shouty headline "Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposes large public Wi-Fi networks." The report had some bold, inaccurate claims, notably this one: "If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas."

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.

It seemed no one was asking the most obvious question: who would build Wi-Fi everywhere and give it away for free? "It would cost money, so I don't see a path toward ubiquitous free Wi-Fi that is at an acceptable quality level," wireless engineer Steven Crowley told me in an e-mail today.

White Spaces takes the spectrum from empty TV channels and allows the airwaves to be used for Wi-Fi, or "Super Wi-Fi" as it's sometimes called. Using lower frequencies than traditional Wi-Fi, White Spaces signals would be better at penetrating obstacles and thus travel farther.

But the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) isn't going to build the network itself. The agency allocates spectrum for certain uses to spur private investment—someone else will have to find a reason to build it.

"One business case for unlicensed TV white spaces is for long-distance unlicensed links in rural areas," Crowley said. "2.4GHz Wi-Fi is used for that now, but the lower frequencies of TV White Spaces should propagate further and better, over and around obstructions in the path. To me, now, it may be the best business case, but that doesn't mean it's easy to make it a business."

We've written about White Spaces on numerous occasions. The FCC gave its thumbs-up in 2008. We wrote about test networks in 2010, and by December 2011 the FCC had approved the first White Spaces broadband device.

The Post article ostensibly covers the same topic, but it's full of far-fetched claims, exaggerations, and wishful thinking:

Quote:
The federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

...

If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, con*nections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public Wi-Fi 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.
No, free Wi-Fi isn't coming to every US city
When bad journalism strikes: the big story of the day was completely false.
by Jon Brodkin - Feb 4 2013, 6:45pm CST

Wireless57
Free Wi-Fi in every US city? It'll happen just as soon as this unicorn comes to life.
Gordon Ednie An amazing story circulated today through much of the mainstream media and tech press. The US government is going to build gigantic Wi-Fi networks across the country, giving free Internet access to everyone.

Or perhaps the US would somehow force wireless providers to build these networks—in which case, it's not clear why this amazing new Internet service would be free, unless the goal was to destroy the entire business model of both cellular carriers and Internet service providers in one fell swoop.

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'"

It all originated from one Washington Post report with the less-shouty headline "Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposes large public Wi-Fi networks." The report had some bold, inaccurate claims, notably this one: "If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas."

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.

It seemed no one was asking the most obvious question: who would build Wi-Fi everywhere and give it away for free? "It would cost money, so I don't see a path toward ubiquitous free Wi-Fi that is at an acceptable quality level," wireless engineer Steven Crowley told me in an e-mail today.

White Spaces takes the spectrum from empty TV channels and allows the airwaves to be used for Wi-Fi, or "Super Wi-Fi" as it's sometimes called. Using lower frequencies than traditional Wi-Fi, White Spaces signals would be better at penetrating obstacles and thus travel farther.

But the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) isn't going to build the network itself. The agency allocates spectrum for certain uses to spur private investment—someone else will have to find a reason to build it.

"One business case for unlicensed TV white spaces is for long-distance unlicensed links in rural areas," Crowley said. "2.4GHz Wi-Fi is used for that now, but the lower frequencies of TV White Spaces should propagate further and better, over and around obstructions in the path. To me, now, it may be the best business case, but that doesn't mean it's easy to make it a business."

We've written about White Spaces on numerous occasions. The FCC gave its thumbs-up in 2008. We wrote about test networks in 2010, and by December 2011 the FCC had approved the first White Spaces broadband device.

The Post article ostensibly covers the same topic, but it's full of far-fetched claims, exaggerations, and wishful thinking:

Quote:
The federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

...

If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, con*nections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public Wi-Fi 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.
I put an emphasis on that "no one actively managing them" phrase because that's simply untrue of White Spaces. Because White Spaces spectrum is shared between unlicensed uses such as Wi-Fi and TV broadcasters, a sophisticated database system is needed to manage use of the airwaves. One set of airwaves might be available to consumer devices in certain places and certain times—but in other places and times those same airwaves would be reserved for TV broadcasters, making them off-limits to the public. Consumer devices getting on the Internet via White Spaces airwaves would have to connect to databases that act like air traffic controllers.

The point is, White Spaces (and similar spectrum sharing plans) take planning and organization. It's not a free-for-all.

In the context of the Post article, "unmanaged" could mean simply the spectrum is unlicensed and that any device could connect to it, just like any other Wi-Fi network. But citywide Wi-Fi networks would have to be built by someone with deep pockets and likely a profit motive—there's no reason to think someone would build the network and then just leave it. Congestion can happen on any network, but that doesn't mean no one is managing it.

A grain of truth, exaggerated and repeated

The Post article was apparently spurred by a relatively minor development, the FCC taking comments from industry players about the agency's plan to free up spectrum owned by TV broadcasters through incentive auctions. Newly freed spectrum in the 600MHz band could be used for Super Wi-Fi and other services that might expand mobile Internet access.

Google and Microsoft issued a joint statement supporting the auctions while urging the agency to:

Quote:
(1) create a band plan with unlicensed designations that are large enough to support investment; (2) preserve white spaces in the remaining television broadcast bands; and (3) promote efficient use of the UHF spectrum by establishing new rules for wireless microphone operations.
Wireless carriers, which prefer that spectrum be cleared and allocated exclusively to individual carriers, offered a tepid response while not outright opposing the FCC.

Many reporters blindly repeated the Post's confused account and even embellished upon it, but we can be thankful that some good journalists noticed and had their debunking skills at the ready.

Jerry Brito, director of the Technology Policy Program at George Mason University, laid out the most relevant details on The Technology Liberation Front with an article titled "All you need to know about 'Super Wi-Fi.'"

"Free Wi-Fi networks, folks!" Brito wrote. "Wow, what an amazing new plan. But, wait a minute. Who is going to pay for these free nationwide networks? They’ve got to be built after all. Hmmm. It doesn’t seem like the article really explains that part."

The Post reporter was asked on Twitter what prompted the new article, and whether the fantabulous account had any relation to the much more modest White Spaces plan the rest of us are familiar with. The reporter confirmed the article was about White Spaces, even though the piece never used that phrase, and said the only new thing "is all [the] comments that came into FCC recently support and against."

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."

DSLReports was among those debunking the free Wi-Fi for all story, noting "the initiative isn't new, it has been fighting for survival for nearly a decade, and it still has a long and ugly political gauntlet to run before it can even begin to disrupt the existing telecom apple cart."

Dan Frommer weighed in with some key questions few other reporters asked. For example:
  • "Why would the Internet access be free?"
  • "Why would this be better than the inexpensive Internet service we already subscribe to?"
  • "Would this even work with the devices you and I carry around all day?"
  • "Why is this in the news again, anyway? This has been vaporware for years."
The other all-too obvious question we noted earlier: who would build these giant networks?

On The American Prospect, Paul Waldman wrote it's possible "somebody like Google would establish a network using this part of the spectrum, let's say for a city or a region, and then if you wanted to get on that network they'd be the gatekeeper, meaning you could get on as long as you signed in with your Gmail account."

Waldman notes "That's good for Google, because they can put ads in front of you, and it may be good for you too." But it's bad for cell phone companies and Internet service providers "whose service might not seem so appealing anymore. Which means that you can bet that Verizon, Comcast et. al will fight this with all their considerable might."

Free Wi-Fi everywhere you go? Keep dreaming, you crazy dreamers.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:58 AM   #12
cosmo20002 cosmo20002 is offline
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So, no problems with Big Brother being your internet service provider? No one?

And apparently providing it "free"? Yeah, free to those who already pay no taxes! Amirite?

Gimme my Obama-net!
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:07 PM   #13
KILLER_CLOWN KILLER_CLOWN is offline
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Originally Posted by cosmo20002 View Post
So, no problems with Big Brother being your internet service provider? No one?

And apparently providing it "free"? Yeah, free to those who already pay no taxes! Amirite?

Gimme my Obama-net!
We can still have our own pay to play net, Something tangible the govt can do to spend my money is a win win for everybody.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
The other all-too obvious question we noted earlier: who would build these giant networks?

On The American Prospect, Paul Waldman wrote it's possible "somebody like Google would establish a network using this part of the spectrum, let's say for a city or a region, and then if you wanted to get on that network they'd be the gatekeeper, meaning you could get on as long as you signed in with your Gmail account."

Waldman notes "That's good for Google, because they can put ads in front of you, and it may be good for you too." But it's bad for cell phone companies and Internet service providers "whose service might not seem so appealing anymore. Which means that you can bet that Verizon, Comcast et. al will fight this with all their considerable might."

Free Wi-Fi everywhere you go? Keep dreaming, you crazy dreamers.

http://www.google.com/tisp/install.html
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:47 PM   #15
cosmo20002 cosmo20002 is offline
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We can still have our own pay to play net, Something tangible the govt can do to spend my money is a win win for everybody.
This post makes no sense. "Tangible" makes it ok?
Assuming the same content is available, why would people pay Time Warner or whoever when they can get it for free?

Now if the govt blocks porn or something, then I'm sure the private companies will do just fine. But what else will they block? Will it be the right-wing propaganda you love?

Why am I more skeptical about this than the right-wingers?
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