The United States FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has just proposed an ambitious plan that would expand Wi-Fi coverage across the nation. This network will be so powerful that people who access it will be able to make VoIP calls or surf the Internet without using their mobile carrier network. It’s also going to be made available for free.
This new proposal has caught the attention of the various cellular providers in the country who are already launching a lobbying effort to persuade policymakers not to push through with the plan. An equally strong lobbying effort is also being launched by several tech giants led by Google and Microsoft who countered that free Wi-Fi access for everyone will spark innovations which will benefit Americans.
So what is this super Wi-Fi network anyway? Unlike the regular Wi-Fi that you have in your homes, this new model proposed by the FCC will be much more powerful. It will be able to penetrate thick walls, travel across hills and even around trees. It’s also going to have a much farther reach which will be measured in miles instead of feet. This in effect will blanket most of the metropolitan and rural areas with a signal to get free Internet access.
According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski “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.”
If this proposal were to be approved it will still take a couple of years’ time before the system could be put in place. There is the hardware infrastructure that has to be set up then there’s the question of who is going to manage the system? With no one managing it this network will get jammed in no time at all with lots of people trying to access it simultaneously.
As of now we are already seeing some semblance of this super Wi-Fi network as Google is already providing free Wi-Fi access in Chelsea, Manhattan and some parts of Silicon Valley.