Looking for public Wi-Fi in your town or city? The hunt may be about to get easier: the Federal Communications Commission is reportedly considering the development of free and public “super Wi-Fi” networks across the United States.
The proposal, first reported by The Washington Post, would require local television stations and broadcasters to sell wireless spectrum — the so-called “white spaces” — to the government. The government would then use that spectrum to build public Wi-Fi networks.
The public networks would be much stronger than average by virtue of the spectrum used to build them —their signal would hypothetically travel for long distances and penetrate thick walls and other objects.
Update: The government is not building national Wi-Fi networks. Mashable regrets the error.
The idea has thus driven a wedge between telecom providers and the world’s biggest technology companies.
Many of the major cell phone carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Qualcomm, are reportedly lobbying hard against the proposal. Their argument? The FCC should auction the spectrum to businesses instead of forcing its sale to the government. Some of those companies are also claiming the hypothetical network might cause interference with local broadcasts.
The plan has immense disruptive potential: If successful, it could cause many people to cancel their cellular and Internet plans in favor of connecting to the Internet via the free public Wi-Fi networks. But that also means the government would have complete control of your internet!