(Photo : Reuters)
The Federal Communications Commission wants to make the internet as pervasive and free as air. They have proposed a nation-wide super Wi-Fi network so expansive, fast, and strong that everyone could make VoIP calls and surf the Internet for free.
These Wi-Fi networks would use a much stronger signal than household wireless networks, providing public Wi-Fi everywhere, no matter how bad your current cellphone signal is inside your house, and extending that reach over hills, through forests, and across broad stretches of the nation.
Software giants like Google and Microsoft are excited about the innovations and advancements in the intersection of technology and society that could be sparked by providing everyone, even the poor, with the ability to access the internet, reports the Washington Post. The last time the U.S. government made some of the unlicensed airwaves available, in 1985, the market and use of wireless house-hold gadgets like phones, baby monitors, and garage door openers exploded, leading eventually to Wi-Fi networks, interconnected entertainment systems, and other technology we take for granted now.
Still, the free Wi-Fi idea has its detractors, most strongly and most unsurprisingly from the cellular carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, who think the government shouldn't go into the internet business, but instead sell off the airwaves it's planning on using for the public Wi-Fi network to private companies (such as themselves).
There are a lot of other inherent challenges to this system. It would take several years to set up, even if approved, which doesn't take into account the various legal challenges to the plan that the private internet provider industry may wage in the process. There are also technical and institutional challenges presented by adding a new nationwide signal to part of the wireless spectrum - Just remember all of the bugs and roadblocks the FCC had to deal with when broadcast television went digital,