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Wi-Fi Industry Retaliates Against FCC's Super Wi-Fi Network

By - Source: The Washington Post | B 47 comments

Wireless providers and component suppliers are trying to talk the FCC out of a nationwide public Super Wi-Fi network.

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.

 

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    dozerman , February 4, 2013 7:54 PM
    For once, the government is trying to do something that would benifit the common man, and these morons are getting in the way with their greed.
  • 13 Hide
    LORD_ORION , February 4, 2013 8:05 PM
    How about you put it to a referendum.

    All those in favor of available public frequencies being sold by government to corporations? *tumbleweeds*

    All those in favor of an always on wifi infrastructure across the entire nation? (you know, sort of like how we have roads for cars?)

    That's what I thought.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    mrmoo500 , February 4, 2013 7:47 PM
    I can honestly see where both sides are coming from, we'll just have to wait and see how this turns out.
  • Display all 47 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    Raid3r , February 4, 2013 7:50 PM
    Both sides my have a point, but I can say for sure either way we lose. Honestly though, we have let the telcos have their way to long. Gov branches may not be "better", but we can put pressure on them a lot easier.
  • 14 Hide
    dozerman , February 4, 2013 7:54 PM
    For once, the government is trying to do something that would benifit the common man, and these morons are getting in the way with their greed.
  • 5 Hide
    koga73 , February 4, 2013 7:57 PM
    The government shouldn't even think about rolling out "free" nation-wide wifi. For one we don't need the government controlling the nations wifi. Second this would cost the taxpayers billions... money that we don't have.
  • 13 Hide
    LORD_ORION , February 4, 2013 8:05 PM
    How about you put it to a referendum.

    All those in favor of available public frequencies being sold by government to corporations? *tumbleweeds*

    All those in favor of an always on wifi infrastructure across the entire nation? (you know, sort of like how we have roads for cars?)

    That's what I thought.
  • 8 Hide
    internetlad , February 4, 2013 8:06 PM
    not surprising that verizon and AT&T are amongst the first listed as disputing this. They stand to lose a hell of a lot when everybody can use any laptop to make calls via Skype WI-FI from anywhere in the nation.

    On the flip side, of course, this is certainly a very expansive project, adding much unwanted strain to an already failing and irresponsible budget.
  • 4 Hide
    quilciri , February 4, 2013 8:07 PM
    I don't know about Qualcomm, but AT&T & Verizon's agruments don't hold water. Despite record profits (not revenue, profits )each year, both Verizon and AT&T are investing less and less in their infrasructure. The quality of service has gotten worse as more people access the stagnant networks at 3G, wimax ,and LTE speeds. Quality of service does not appear to be their primary concern.
  • 1 Hide
    LORD_ORION , February 4, 2013 8:08 PM
    koga73The government shouldn't even think about rolling out "free" nation-wide wifi. For one we don't need the government controlling the nations wifi. Second this would cost the taxpayers billions... money that we don't have.


    I guess you are also anti-road, emergency services, and military? Or do you disagree that information inter-connectivity is essential for a nation during this time of emerging globalization, and that empowering citizens is not as good as empowering corporations?
  • 3 Hide
    dalethepcman , February 4, 2013 8:09 PM
    I don't think the big companies are screaming bloody murder because they are afraid of losing profits. All of the companies listed would be asked to provide the support and infrastructure and maintenance as well as the capacity for this. In the long run the new model may be "free to use" but the cost would be placed on the taxpayer instead of each cellular phone owner. Nothing is free.

    While the upside of having "free" wireless access everywhere could create some amazing new companies and products, there is also the huge downside of who watches the watchmen? What kind of security and over-site would there be to prevent abuse of the massive amounts of personal data a network like this would create?
  • 6 Hide
    gilamonsterz , February 4, 2013 8:11 PM
    Yeah, free wifi 'sounds' nice, but it will be government controlled, bandwidth limited, and expensive. Pay higher taxes for crappy internet you wont use but everyone else can, even those not paying taxes? Sounds like all our other inefficient treasurey draining social programs. Versuse liscensing the spectrum, and generating revenue toward our horrendous deficit, strengthening economic confidence, and lowering taxes?

    I see ups and downs on both sides, but liscensing makes more sense in the current state of affairs.
  • 5 Hide
    gilamonsterz , February 4, 2013 8:15 PM
    LORD_ORIONI guess you are also anti-road, emergency services, and military? Or do you disagree that information inter-connectivity is essential for a nation during this time of emerging globalization, and that empowering citizens is not as good as empowering corporations?


    In general, an individual can pay for internet service. An individual cannot pay for a road. Taxes for civil infrastructure are one thing, but this is another debt increasing social program to increase reliance on government and certain political parties. Campaigns will be: Vote for me! Get free internet! Those other guys don't want you to have internet, they're bad!
  • 6 Hide
    lindethier , February 4, 2013 8:18 PM
    I just look at the cost of rolling this out and wonder if that would be best, considering the insane amount of debt the government is currently in. As others have said, it could lead to some more interesting connectivity between devices, but the cost would still be insane. Nothing is free.
  • -1 Hide
    g00fysmiley , February 4, 2013 8:39 PM
    lindethierI just look at the cost of rolling this out and wonder if that would be best, considering the insane amount of debt the government is currently in. As others have said, it could lead to some more interesting connectivity between devices, but the cost would still be insane. Nothing is free.


    these are some of my concerns as well, but like the public works prodject that brought us hoover damn and the highways we could add to taxes to fund it and it would i think be good fo have a public netwrok liek this so everybody can have some level of access to the internet much liek you can have cable tv or stalite tv but an antenna is still an option not as good service but still an option. i also feel this woudl actually improve service from private companies like at&t / verizon due to having to do somethign they hate doing... actually competing and with a free option it means they damn well better offer a signifigantly better product or lose customers
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , February 4, 2013 8:44 PM
    Balance the budget first....(sorry, let's actually have one first), get out of debt, bring our troops home, institute a flat tax, then lets talk.
  • 1 Hide
    abbadon_34 , February 4, 2013 8:55 PM
    Just replace NPR with free-wifi, better use of gov $ and they can still spam us with useless email solicitations all day !
  • 1 Hide
    cbfelterbush , February 4, 2013 9:42 PM
    To be perfectly frank, I do NOT think it is within the spectrum of government functions to have anything at all to do with WiFi whatever. What the fuck are they wasting tax dollars on when the government can't even keep the power on for the superbowl.

    Thorium. If the government wants to spend research dollars here, that's great, assuming they don't just sell the breakthroughs in power production technology to China.

    -CB
  • 4 Hide
    guardianangel42 , February 4, 2013 9:58 PM
    You guys are looking at this all wrong.

    If this went through, the Government would be the sole distributor of the internet. If this went through, ATT, Verizon, and all the rest would struggle to stay in business and quite possibly could fail to pay for the bandwidth they already have.

    I for one don't want to live in a country where the government controls my access to the internet.
  • 0 Hide
    tuch92 , February 4, 2013 10:04 PM
    I see the point of both sides but I think basic public WIFi would be good. Something for simple communications. If users are going to need more than that, then they can go with the service providers. It helps even the playing field. The main stipulation I'm worried about is if the goverment would be censoring what comes through.

    I think if they do create it, add a 2.5 Mbps cap (or so) per device connected. Just enough for basic use. That way they aren't destroying the providers and they don't have a few people causing the network to crawl.
  • 0 Hide
    livebriand , February 4, 2013 10:22 PM
    guardianangel42You guys are looking at this all wrong. If this went through, the Government would be the sole distributor of the internet. If this went through, ATT, Verizon, and all the rest would struggle to stay in business and quite possibly could fail to pay for the bandwidth they already have.I for one don't want to live in a country where the government controls my access to the internet.

    Hard to say - you can get basic TV for free OTA, but people still subscribe to cable. Unless government-provided internet is faster than what you can subscribe to (doubtful), AT&T, Verizon, etc very well might survive.
  • 2 Hide
    therabiddeer , February 4, 2013 10:38 PM
    Both sides have a point, but I cant side with the cellular industry that charges essentially $40/hr or more for bandwidth (assumption: you use bandwidth for an hour at a speed of 1.3MB/s, like watching a movie or TV show in HD).
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