The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to free up enough unlicensed radio spectrum to blanket much of the United States with free, highspeed, long-range WiFi networks, according to a report from the Washington Post published on Sunday evening. The FCC proposal is still years away from reality, but already major tech and telecom companies are taking sides -- with Google, Microsoft and other Web-based companies supporting the plan, and wireless carriers, Oracle and Intel lobbying against it, The Post reported. Intel said it would rather see spectrum used to bolster existing, paid cellular networks.
The plan is also dependent upon local TV stations and broadcasters selling some of the rights to their spectrum back to the government for public use, and as the Post notes, "It is not clear whether these companies would be willing to do so."
Still, the benefits to the public from such a service appear to be manifold. As The Post reported:
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
It remains to be seen just which blocks of spectrum would be used, who would be in charge of them and how they would be secured. TPM has reached out to the FCC for more info and will update when we receive a response.