I’m quite frequently angry with Comcast Xfinity. I pay a small fortune for my measly 30 mbps Internet speeds and I’m lucky if I get that for longer than a second.
The idea of ubiquitous wifi appeals to me. I think it should be regulated, to a degree, by those who maintain it. But being able to always be online, eliminating ridiculous fees I pay each month to both Verizon and Comcast? Well, let’s just say I support the idea of free public wifi as a right (right to pursue happiness perhaps?).
Much to my surprise, the FCC agrees. The FCC wants a free, public WiFi net, nationwide. If approved, it would take a few years to put together and launch, but their plan is extensive and far-reaching.
“We want our policy to be more end-user-centric and not carrier-centric. That’s where there is a difference in opinion” with carriers and their partners, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is still being considered by the five-member panel.”
Of course, the carriers – everyone from Verizon and AT&T to Qualcomm – have issues. This would put their current business models at risk.
But according to this Washington Post article, this planned WiFi net would make it possible for heart monitors to communicate with hospitals over a mile a way, and would make things easier for emergency response teams in times of crisis. That’s a large and strong network they’ve got in mind.
The new plan has the backing of both Microsoft and Google, who see ubiquitous wifi as a way for everything from more tablets to robots and self-driving cars to access the Internet. These two companies see the FCC’s plan as viable and a step forward, paving the way for things to come. Ubiquitous wifi, clearing away the monetary broadband gap between upper and lower classes, could bring an explosion of new innovation.
Like anything coming out the government, this has to go through countless committees for approval. With the lobbying power of companies like AT&T, Verizon, Qualcomm, and Intel, this could be stopped dead in its tracks. For now, at least, I’m a bit comforted that the FCC is on the same page as me.