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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 02-06-2013, 12:54 PM   #16
listopencil listopencil is offline
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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?
I don't see this particular issue leading to government provided internet service any time soon, but I could see the usefulness of a large network with a few simplistic options. Something along the lines of older cell phone services before smart phones.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:10 PM   #17
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I'm not tech savvy enough to know how feasible the idea would be, but is this something that could be done on a county level? Say the FCC frees up the band for local government use. Counties use voter approved taxes (or bonds, I don't know) to pay for the infrastructure to service that region. The counties with larger populations would need more infrastructure to meet demand but would have access to more cash from that same population. It ends up being a public works project along the lines of water/sewer services, trash collection, schools, police/fire, etc.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:30 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by listopencil View Post
I'm not tech savvy enough to know how feasible the idea would be, but is this something that could be done on a county level? Say the FCC frees up the band for local government use. Counties use voter approved taxes (or bonds, I don't know) to pay for the infrastructure to service that region. The counties with larger populations would need more infrastructure to meet demand but would have access to more cash from that same population. It ends up being a public works project along the lines of water/sewer services, trash collection, schools, police/fire, etc.
I highly doubt it would be cost effective at the county level. The infrastructure and upkeep is being seriously underestimated or flat out ignored in these articles.

A good comparison would be cell phone coverage/towers/service in rural areas. In many places, it's not even worth it for the big cell phone companies to provide the infrastructure to cover those locations. And they make good profit on their service. Cellular has a much greater coverage distance than this wifi does, and likely requires less maintenance.

This is a neat idea in general, but much is being left out regarding the implementation.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Fish View Post
I highly doubt it would be cost effective at the county level. The infrastructure and upkeep is being seriously underestimated or flat out ignored in these articles.

A good comparison would be cell phone coverage/towers/service in rural areas. In many places, it's not even worth it for the big cell phone companies to provide the infrastructure to cover those locations. And they make good profit on their service. Cellular has a much greater coverage distance than this wifi does, and likely requires less maintenance.

This is a neat idea in general, but much is being left out regarding the implementation.
Ah, OK. I don't really know enough to get an idea of how expensive it would be. I was thinking about the old UHF TV channels and how regional they were.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:36 PM   #20
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Not to mention it would be fairly useless for car users moving from one router to the next, ick man.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:45 PM   #21
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Ah, OK. I don't really know enough to get an idea of how expensive it would be. I was thinking about the old UHF TV channels and how regional they were.
There is a trade off though. In rural areas, there's more UHF bandwidth available, compared to metro areas. Less interference. But you still run into coverage and range issues. Justifying building towers and signal repeaters over an area where maybe 4-5 people live per square mile is going to be tough to justify.

There are claims that this Super Wifi can reach ranges of up to 60 miles. But I really question how effective that would really be. I would guess maybe 15 miles would be closer to the effective range.

And another thing to consider, it would require new wifi hardware. You can't use the same wifi card in current computers to access this different wifi, because it's a completely different frequency range. People would need to buy new "Super Wifi" cards. The infrastructure would have to be all new router/repeater type hardware to use that range as well.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:57 PM   #22
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Really don't want a federally owned and controlled national communications network. It would take a million government workers to operate and would crush all the US telecom carriers.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:17 PM   #23
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The real question would be who's going to pay for all the new hardware required to set up this infrastructure. Because that technology currently isn't available to the masses. Who's going to foot the bill for the manufacturing that goes into making new routers, repeaters, wifi cards, etc? Because the current technology we have for wifi wouldn't work. That's the huge gap that they're not addressing if they're planning on some kind of "Free" offering with this. That could be hundreds of millions of dollars.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:56 PM   #24
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They just want more control over teh interwebz.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:50 PM   #25
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ok ok ok... it seems a lot of people are misunderstanding what is happening here. Of course the headlines are all completely misleading so that's no big surprise.

The FCC is NOT proposing that the government... ANY government.. build giant free networks, hell, or networks of any kind. What the FCC is proposing is simply this...setting aside some of the UHF band as UNLICENSED.

This is the exact same thing as what happened in 1985 with ISM band. When ISM band went unlicensed you saw an explosion of consumer devices that used it. Your cordless phone at home is probably ISM. Bluetooth is in this range as well. The ONLY reason that this is a bigger deal is that new devices using UHF have potential for MUCH MUCH greater range. Which is what prompted the rampant speculation that this will bring about some giant free wifi revolution.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:38 PM   #26
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and since this is in DC, my political take... the FCC (in this context) is a perfect example of the type of things the federal government SHOULD be involved with.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:51 PM   #27
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A nice way to monitor as many people as possible all at once.

Scary.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:12 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by AustinChief View Post
ok ok ok... it seems a lot of people are misunderstanding what is happening here. Of course the headlines are all completely misleading so that's no big surprise.

The FCC is NOT proposing that the government... ANY government.. build giant free networks, hell, or networks of any kind. What the FCC is proposing is simply this...setting aside some of the UHF band as UNLICENSED.

This is the exact same thing as what happened in 1985 with ISM band. When ISM band went unlicensed you saw an explosion of consumer devices that used it. Your cordless phone at home is probably ISM. Bluetooth is in this range as well. The ONLY reason that this is a bigger deal is that new devices using UHF have potential for MUCH MUCH greater range. Which is what prompted the rampant speculation that this will bring about some giant free wifi revolution.
Hey AC, how's it going big brother
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:41 PM   #29
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A nice way to monitor as many people as possible all at once.

Scary.
except it's not... the articles here (except for one) have no basis in reality. A better way to think of this is (although also not entirely accurate)... all of a sudden your wifi router now has a 5 mile range. That's effectively all this would do. We are talking about consumer equipment just like current wifi routers or cordless phones... just with much better range.
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