Update: Ars Technica has debunked The Washington Post's story on the FCC's new plan to build out a Super Wi-Fi network. The original story claimed a new FCC proposal was under review, but it appears it was actually referencing the "White Spaces" proposal that has been thrown around for years. Sorry folks, but the FCC isn't building any free Super Wi-Fi network:
"But the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) isn't going to build the network itself. The agency allocates spectrum for certain uses to spur private investment—someone else will have to find a reason to build it."
Read the full story here. Our original post follows.
The Federal Communication Commission is proposing a "Super Wi-Fi" network that could potentially give everyone free access to fast wireless Internet. The plan already has support from tech giants Google and Microsoft, but faces stiff opposition from telecom companies such as AT&T and Verizon that fear a Super Wi-Fi network could destroy their existing business models and create interference with their cellular and TV networks.
As the The Washington Post notes, a free public Wi-Fi network that spans the entire nation would allow people to cut their cellular data plans, but more importantly, would grant universal Internet access to poorer folk. While Super Wi-Fi isn't even based on traditional Wi-Fi tech and isn't endorsed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, it is super, in that it could potentially deliver data speeds of up to 20 megabits per second over miles, passing right through thick walls and other solid objects that would normally reduce a Wi-Fi signal.
It sounds great, doesn't it? Sure, if this was a perfect world, there would be fast, reliable and free Wi-Fi available everywhere. But it's not a perfect world, and the spectrum for this needs to come from somewhere. In this case, the FCC's plan would require television stations and broadcasters to sell portions of their spectrum to the government to build out an infrastructure. The big question now is: will it ever happen?
The FCC's five-person panel is currently reviewing the proposal, with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski highly supportive for it:
"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."
We're sold. Let's do this.