The idea of a Super Wi-Fi network that users can access for free across the nation isn't exactly a new proposal. After all, that's what the FCC wants to do with some of the unlicensed white space once used by analog TV signals. But the plan has now become a lot clearer as well as the opposition the government faces from the wireless industry.
According to a recent article by The Washington Post, a group of companies including AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm sent a letter to the FCC saying that the government needs to focus its attention on selling those airwaves instead of using them for a free nationwide network. Many Republican lawmakers are saying the same thing, that the sale would raise billions for the U.S. Treasury.
In the letter, Intel told the FCC that those airwaves could be used to bolster high-speed cellular 4G networks. "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 actually want the FCC to do more testing for potential interference. But supporters of the Super Wi-Fi plan are criticizing both the equipment and cellular firms, pointing out that they oppose the plan simply because they share lucrative relationships, and don't want anything do disrupt this money-making model.
But the hardware and cellular companies may be fearful for a good reason. The FCC's proposed network will be offered in nearly every metropolitan area and in many rural areas. Unlike a home or business network, the FCC's version would be nearly everywhere, penetrating walls, dodging trees and rolling over hills. Users could seemingly make VoIP calls from anywhere, driverless cars a mile apart could communicate with each other, and more. Consumers may no longer need a home network to simply surf the web.
"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."
One big hurdle the FCC must overcome is convincing local TV stations and other broadcasters to sell a chunk of their unused airwaves to the government. Currently it's not clear whether these companies are willing to sell their vacant airwaves.
To read the full report from the Washington Post, head here.