Imagine telling AT&T you're done with dropped calls, or telling
T-Mobile you're done with slow data. Yes, elections matter, and the FCC is proposing something spectacular for Americans...assuming that shitting-their-pants mobile phone operators don't kill the mammoth proposal:
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.
Think about it -- how often do you actually use your smartphone to make
phone calls or texts now anyway? For many folks, particularly the
younger set, smartphones are about data, data, and data. They use Skype
to make calls, Whatsapp to send texts, and Facebook to stay in touch --
all on data. This is why the likes of AT&T now force Americans to
purchase unlimited texts and phone minutes -- or otherwise face
outrageous per-text or per-minute fees -- because the wireless companies
realize that Americans are really carrying around small computers in
this day and age -- the 'phone' is only an inconsequential 'app' at the
bottom of your screen.
This is a Big Ducking Deal, folks:
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, connections
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.”
Unsurprisingly, this is a policy move that would benefit both the
wealthiest Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs and the poorest individuals
in America's cities and rural areas:
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
appliances 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,” Genachowski 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.
This is a policy that could transform American competitiveness and
create thousands of new jobs, as well as diminishing the burden of
outrageous wireless phone bills on poor Americans. Waiting for the GOP
to cry 'socialism' in 3,2,1...
11:07 AM PT: Email the Commissioners to Express Support for the Proposal:
Chairman Julius Genachowski: Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov
Commissioner Robert McDowell: Robert.McDowell@fcc.gov
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov
Commissioner Ajit Pai: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov
In: Other News
Tags: , , , , , , FCC, , , , , Mobile, , , , , Recommended, , , , , smartphones, , , , , technology, , , , , WiFi, , , , , wireless
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