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The FCC Wants to Blanket America in Free Wi-Fi

The commission's plan, which would be the first of its kind in the world, represents a massive leap forward in the internet age. But as you might expect, telecom providers aren't interested in shaking up the current model that's incredibly lucrative...

by Derek Mead
Feb 6 2013, 12:00am

Internet access is an essential need on par with education access, but at what point do regulators recognize that? When will government officials acknowledge that widespread, guaranteed access is essential to fostering growth in the country? Somewhat surprisingly, that time is now, as the Federal Communications Commission is now calling for nationwide free wi-fi networks to be opened up to the public.

The FCC proposes buying back spectrum from TV stations that would allow for what the Washington Post is dubbing "super wi-fi," as the commission wants to cover the country with wide-ranging, highly penetrative networks. Essentially, you can imagine the proposal as covering a majority of the country with open-access data networks, similar to cell networks now, that your car, tablet, or even phone could connect to. That means no one is ever disconnected, and some folks—especially light users and the poor—could likely ditch regular internet and cell plans altogether.

As you might expect, telecom providers, equipment manufacturers, and even firms heavily invested in the cell-phone market aren't interested in shaking up the current model that's incredibly lucrative for them.

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