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FCC Proposal Would Cover the US With Public Wi-Fi

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the beggar-thy-neighbor dept.

The Internet 299

pigrabbitbear writes "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 FCC 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."

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Conspiracy starts now! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42786903)

Conspiracy comments in 3...2...1

Cue the (5, Insightful)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year and a half ago | (#42786911)

Lobby "contributions" from Sprint, AT&T Tmobile, Comcast, Time Warner... The war chests of our representatives and senators will overflow with joy
if they defeat this.

Re:Cue the (3, Funny)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787043)

I'm shocked, shocked.

Did I tell you how shocked I am? Really, I'm so shocked.

Re:Cue the (5, Funny)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787175)

Me too. Someone on slashdot used 'cue' properly.

Re:Cue the (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787463)

It's a mute point though.

Re:Cue the (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787607)

Unfortunately that someone doesn't have a clue on how to use the title vs the body of his comment.

Re:Cue the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787287)

Might I suggest you remove the finger from the electrical outlet?

Re:Cue the (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787055)

Wait...wait...wait...

The basic premise starting this article:

""Internet access is an essential need on par with education access..."

Internet access is on par with educational access? Seriously?

While I will concede it IS important, it is helpful, and makes many things convenient these days...I seriously can't put up there with education. Internet access, while really cool and fun, is still in the category of luxury item. You can get by just fine without it. You won't starve, you won't go into convulsions, you won't die without it.

If you really need it, and can't afford the luxury of having it run into your very own home, you can always go to the public library to use it there (ok, so looking at pr0n there might be a bit more inconvenient than in the privacy of one's own home).

I mean, widespread use and access of the internet (more specifically for most people the web portion of it) is a fairly recent thing. People still can get by just fine without it.

I mean..what's next...claiming internet access is a basic human right?

Re:Cue the (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787143)

You can get by just fine without it. You won't starve, you won't go into convulsions, you won't die without it.

[...]
If you really need it, and can't afford the luxury of having it run into your very own home, you can always go to the public library to use it there

I fail to see how this differs from education.

Re:Cue the (5, Insightful)

Dins (2538550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787147)

Internet access and educational access are quickly becoming the same thing. I have a 15 year old son. Of course he's good with computers and the internet (he's my son after all) but I'm amazed at what his high school coursework requires now. It all but assumes he has constant access to the internet. Hell he even uses his iPod on the school's wifi network for classwork in class.

Of course we have good access at home, but if a kid didn't it would be a huge handicap. Yes, they can go to school computer labs and the library, etc., but even that access is dwindling now that some schools all but assume a good computer and internet access at home. His school is a very good school, but all schools will follow suit eventually.

Re:Cue the (5, Informative)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787215)

Tell that to all the people that are employed because they self-taught themselves something using the internet. And yes you can go to the public library, plenty of people do, but the public library isn't always open & one isn't always available depending where you live. And based on your statements, people can get by "just fine" without education, it has nothing to do whatsoever with food, air, & water, but it's definitely a nice to have in that sense, so is the internet.

Re:Cue the (5, Insightful)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787247)

I agree. Not only is it a luxury item that is important, but it's too important for the government to control. Can you imagine the security implications and headaches a network like this would have? There are so many technical, economic and legal unintended consequences to this, it's not even funny. If the government might do anything (and even here I'm skeptical), they should help make sure that the current private means of getting on the 'net remain competitive and sooner than later, cheap Internet in many different forms will be ubiquitous without the unintended consequences that only a government can create.

I predict this will also be a new avenue for the US federal government to regulate the Internet into oblivion. This is a setup for a massive new power grab.

Re:Cue the (3, Insightful)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787357)

the Sausage Master is right. Single provider = single point of control, and that's not a good thing. Competition (and by that, I mean *real* competition, none of this "we'll create health care exchanges that cut off private companies at the knees so the only thing left is the government option" bullshit) breeds innovation and lower costs. Best thing the government could do for truly stimulating competition for low cost internet (not free internet, mind you, as that's a red herring) would be to sponsor some sort of X-Prize style competition to design and implement some regional or multi-state test platform for a currently underserved area, like the Midwest or parts of the South. Hell, the government doesn't even really need to do this - it could be sponsored by the Bill Gates foundation or something similar. I'm not an infrastructure guy, so I'm sure there are caveats that would need to be spelled out in advance, but having the FCC in charge would make something as stupid as the Janet Jackson Nipplegate thing seem like the most worthwhile undertaking ever.

Re:Cue the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787523)

Yeah, competition is working out oh so well for those who have basic needs. Gosh, look, internet up here is $100 per month! That competition is really driving down prices! My father just couldn't move for all the companies fighting one another for his health insurance business - each offering lower prices than the last!

No. Competition has had its chance and it hasn't worked. When something fails as spectacularly as this, you change it. It failed. Miserably.

Re:Cue the (1, Offtopic)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787561)

Good citations, you really convinced me that "competition" has failed. So then lets insert the government to do it, because they never fail! /sarcasm

Re:Cue the (1)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787541)

the Sausage Master is right.

Wow, someone actually agrees with me on /. That's like a first. :)

Re:Cue the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787697)

You could just not use the government provided Wi-Fi and use a different internet provider. The price might go up as demand for private internet access is smaller than general demand for private access. But it is a luxury item right? If you want it your way, you might have to pay for it.

Re:Cue the (5, Insightful)

mdielmann (514750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787725)

Not only is it a luxury item that is important, but it's too important for the government to control.

So, more important than roads, making sure drugs are safe for their intended use, and the protection of the sovereignty of your nation. Gotcha.

Re:Cue the (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787251)

Same arguments could be said about education. Modding you a troll.

Re:Cue the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787573)

While your counterargument is correct, modding him a troll would make you a liar, because he's not trolling and you know it.

Re:Cue the (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787431)

I seriously can't put up there with education. Internet access, while really cool and fun, is still in the category of luxury item. You can get by just fine without it. You won't starve, you won't go into convulsions, you won't die without it.

Same with electricity, yet that's actually quite important for society. You can't convince me that a kid who doesn't know how to use the internet is prepared to do anything more than wait tables. The internet is absolutely critical for being competitive.

Re:Cue the (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787457)

Yeah, but you're neglecting the downright SCAREY fucking pace people have been pushing forward with the advancement of the internet. Similar to the telephone, or television though it may be, it's really quite alarming just how drastically the explosion of internet availability is altering select pockets of human civilization.

It's something that I really, REALLY wish I could ignore, and agree with you on, but there are people in positions of substantial power, out there, right now, acting on this very mind set. And it's getting to the point where it feels a little irresponsible.

Do you know how desperately my bank wants me to abandon the use of paper? It's touted as "green" and "environmentally friendly", and sure, I am all for that when it comes to coffee cups, but not when I could possibly be dragged into court, and be ruined financially by a lack of availability to hard copies of essential documents and records that might very-well exonerate me. But switching me over electronic PDFs by e-mail only will also save my bank a shitload of money.

Like, what if, in the course of a data breech, some guy not only steals passwords, but replaces all electronic check images with evil photoshop versions? Whoops! I can't prove I paid my mortgage anymore, and I get evicted by the sheriff. It's like I lost all my belongings in a fire, my wife leaves me, my boss fires me, and I'm left penniless on the streets, begging for food and change.

Yeah, okay, okay... that's extreme, but the point is, let's say my bank was a small bank and didn't comply with data security and retention policies. Shame on me for using such a shitty bank right? Shame one me for not voting with my feet. Shame on me for not printing out all those PDFs, when I had the chance and they were available. Shame on me for not photoshopping, and printing out replicas that would be indistinguishable from a forgery anyway, because I'm honest, even though a judge might not even be savvy enough to perform the due diligence to consider this as a possibility. Aw, so sorry, but now I get left out in the cold, even though 80% or 90% of everyone else never feels a thing.

This is a weak example, but I'm sure it's just the tip of the iceberg, and there could be more terrifying realities right under our noses.

The point being that if mail dies, if print dies, if proprietary tablet platforms become the norm, what if our lives get sucked down some bizarre digital memory hole, and we can't convince each other of real world events quite so easily anymore? What if autonomous cars from Google Maps become hyper intelligent and kill us all???

My god! Human Sacrifice! Cats and Dogs Living Together! Mass Hysteria!

Mayor: Enough! I get the point! And what if you're wrong?

Re:Cue the (1)

imikem (767509) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787085)

By "joy" you mean "dollars", which means "speech", right? And people say money can't buy happiness.

Re:Cue the (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787477)

Sure, business interests opposed to change will always rally against it. And they'll always find receptive legislators. But they won't always succeed in keeping things the same, which is why I've bought a car and not a horse and buggy. This specific proposal? Maybe it's wildly optimistic, but lets not act like the telecom lobbyists are gods. It's possible.

Re:Cue the (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787485)

Defeat it? Hell, they are probably lobbying FOR IT. Why try to get individual customers when you have have the government pay your company to cover everyone?

Just like Obamacare was pushed by insurance companies - the government mandating you customers? Why would they fight it?

Is the Censorship free too? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42786913)

How long before this free wifi resembles the great firewall of china?

Comes with Free SOPA/CISPA Style monitoring too! (5, Insightful)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42786959)

You get what you pay for

Re:Comes with Free SOPA/CISPA Style monitoring too (2)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787163)

Use Tor, unless that's blocked somehow as well.

This may sound silly, but I think if everyone used Tor whenever they're on a public wifi hotspot, there would be fewer problems with privacy. All these horror stories of identity theft and bank info stolen etc... etc... have happened in many cases when people used unsecured wifi.

Re:Comes with Free SOPA/CISPA Style monitoring too (4, Informative)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787233)

Tor won't protect you from identity theft, that's what encryption is for. Tor without encryption just tells MORE people what you are doing.

Re:Comes with Free SOPA/CISPA Style monitoring too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787609)

You sound like one of those people who throws around Tor and proxies as solutions to any kind of internet problem, like the ones who suggest them for dealing with tracking cookies. Hiding your source IP does absolutely nothing to keep somebody from capturing your data in transit, or stored on a site. The data itself is what's used for identity theft, no one cares what IP it came from.

Just like a public library (4, Interesting)

junkfish (460683) | about a year and a half ago | (#42786963)

Internet Access should be like Library Access.

It is a little different because it is for knowledge, commerce, and entertainmnet.
But it seems like a gevernment service that should provide for a populace to thrive.

Re:Just like a public library (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787023)

Internet Access should be like Library Access.

It is a little different because it is for knowledge,

Learning about porn.

commerce,

Buying porn.

and entertainmnet.

Watching porn.

But it seems like a gevernment service that should provide for a populace to thrive.

Re:Just like a public library (3, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787223)

Who buys it when there's so much out there that's free?

Re:Just like a public library (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787347)

Government porn?

No thanks. Do you really want to see naked pictures of Janet Napalitano?

Re:Just like a public library (4, Insightful)

wolfemi1 (765089) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787027)

Internet Access should be like Library Access.

It is a little different because it is for knowledge, commerce, and entertainmnet.

Why does that make it different? The library is also for knowledge, commerce (though less so), and entertainment.

Re:Just like a public library (1)

junkfish (460683) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787193)

I see the government pay for roadways, which are used heavly for commernce. The library is less so. Internet is heavily used for commerce, like that of the roadways, but also knowledge and entertainmnet.
I guess compared to roads, they can be used for commerce, lesuire, and military. so they may be more simila than not.

Re:Just like a public library (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787745)

I see the government spends for road ways, which are used heavly for commernce. The library is less so. Internet is heavily used for commerce, like that of the roadways, but also knowledge and entertainment.
I guess compared to roads, they can be used for commerce, leisure, and military. so they may be more similar than not.

FTFY

The government doesn't pay for anything; it spends money appropriated from individuals and businesses.

Re:Just like a public library (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787039)

Internet Access should be like Library Access.

You mean everyone should be authenticated by a uniquely identifiable library card? No thank you!

Re:Just like a public library (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787377)

Have you been to a library? They don't card you when you walk in the door, only if/when you want to leave with some of their property for free.

Make it really available, Geostationary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42786971)

If it was free a geostationary satellite would make access available to everyone even in very remote areas. There is the ping time issue but that is a performance problem; there are commercial alternatives available to almost everyone so this would prevent the commercial providers from getting killed.
My worry is what DHS and the Jesus lobby would do with the network control.

Re:Make it really available, Geostationary (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787253)

If it was free a geostationary satellite would make access available to everyone even in very remote areas. There is the ping time issue but that is a performance problem; there are commercial alternatives available to almost everyone so this would prevent the commercial providers from getting killed.
My worry is what DHS and the Jesus lobby would do with the network control.

Yeah, the ping times are the weak part of that plan. Providing internet service to 300 million devices from a single satellite is the easy part.

Buy back? Didn't we just do that w/ Analog? (3, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787021)

Wasn't the intention of getting that spectrum which was used for analog TV to use it for such things? If it isn't suitable for such, why the change? If the new digital TV spectrum was suited for this, why was it sold?

Re:Buy back? Didn't we just do that w/ Analog? (1, Troll)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787205)

It's a load of BS. There's no need to buy back anything. Spectrum belongs to the people, and can't be legitimately sold, despite what the government thinks it can do. It's a public resource, and the most the government can do is manage it, not sell it.

Just take it back and use it for a better purpose than it's being used for now. No need to "buy" or compensate anybody - they've been making money off a public resource and have nothing to complain about if that resource goes away.

Re:Buy back? Didn't we just do that w/ Analog? (3, Insightful)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787515)

it's not sold, it's licensed, and the Federal government already manages the spectrum, in exactly the way you probably think they should. The term "buyback" would apply to existing licenses which have not yet expired. Its current use is contested because a large number of spectrum users never actually paid for the portion they've licensed out to begin with, so to have the government pay those licensees to abandon the license is a hotly debated topic.

But to pull the plug on licensees without giving them a viable alternative is highly disruptive to commerce. If hardware already exists which was designed for a certain band, and that band is suddenly pulled because of some bureaucrat's hardon for "free" wifi, then the infrastructure that is already in place would become useless without modification. The "buyback" funds are a way to encourage the infrastructure owners to go along with the relicensing; they would have the funds provided to convert or update the infrastructure to adapt to the spectrum change. Again, it might not be the best way to go about doing things, but it doesn't mean that pulling the rug out from under everyone is any better.

Nice idea, but... (4, Insightful)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787033)

How many municipalities have been sued into oblivion by incumbents who cried "unfair competition"?

Re:Nice idea, but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787113)

It'll work because every 15 minutes or so my Internet access will be interrupted by a commercial advertisement or the President's latest message to the masses.

Re:Nice idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787183)

But... I thought monopolies were unfair?

Re:Nice idea, but... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787241)

The US post office and state lotteries disagree with you.

Re:Nice idea, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787547)

Monopolies are not unfair, abuse of monopolistic powers are, which applies to non-monopolies.

Re:Nice idea, but... (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787441)

It's hardly necessary to get municipalities involved; in many Towns there are dozens of WiFi AP's per block.

And nearly every one of those is locked down because there's a very real threat that opening the AP will lead to a S.W.A.T. Team kicking down your door, shooting your dog, and men-in-black ransacking your house "looking for the kiddie porn" (or has MAFFIA prosecution overtaken that in seriousness yet?).

Fix that, and the problem gets solved organically. Oh, but reigning in out-of-control courts and DA's is hard but building a government supermesh is easy.

ONE WORD: CARRIERS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787041)

And not like disease carriers !!

Oh, wait, just like that, sort of !!

Always-available-anywhere Wi-Fi means no need for cells; much less at least !! This will NEVER fly !!

United States of Botnet (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787045)

I sure can't see this being a means of catching political dissidents.

Re:United States of Botnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787549)

The US is already filtering and data mining most internet traffic. Google FISA. If you think your carrier will tell the government to pound sand when they want to monitor your communications, well, I'd like to live in your world.

The real reason this will gain traction (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787057)

Wi-Spy. Ordinarily this wouldn't get past the objections of the lobbyists, but given the massive potential for spying and tracking the citizenry without need for bothersome things like warrants or requests to third parties which create a trail that exposes how often this is done, I think this may just stand a chance. It will be very interesting to me to see if this free wifi requires some sort of registration/authentication because once that happens, the anonymous Internet will take a giant leap towards extinction.

Source? (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787067)

What's the source? Its a /. post of a journalist story about a journalist story about a journalist story then I gave up trying to track back.

I poked around fcc.gov and found almost nothing, so its either really old, really new, or really made up / out of context / unofficial daydream.

I'm an old time reader of FCC part 97 (and others!) so don't try to scare me off with "we need non-technical journalists to translate into prole-speak" I'm quite sure I could handle the primary source... if it actually exists.

Another thing is it won't be wifi although journalists confuse any wireless internet access with wifi. Lets say you get UHF tv channel 46 vacated and reassigned. That doesn't mean a magic firmware download, even to a SDR, will necessarily magically start working in that 662-668 MHz channel.

Re:Source? (4, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787275)

Quote: "The five-member FCC panel has yet to vote on the proposal. Mashable (http://mashable.com/2013/02/04/public-wifi-networks/) has reached out to the FCC for comment and will update this post with any response."

CC.

Re:Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787289)

I don't trust the Washington Post either, sources! /sarc

But really, why no sources from such a large news company?

Essential need? (3, Insightful)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787069)

I thought the only essential needs were food, water and shelter.

Re:Essential need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787375)

I totally agree.

Providing Internet access is NOT the government's job - just like 90% of all the crap it gets involved in an screws up on an hourly basis.

Re:Essential need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787715)

Apparently the failed at your education as well. Such a shame.

Re:Essential need? (1)

BaronAaron (658646) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787379)

I thought the only essential needs were food, water and shelter.

Imagine how much harder it would to insure those essentials if we didn't have technology created by smart people (education) with a means for those people to share ideas (stone tablets, scrolls, books, and now the Internet).

As needs be... (4, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787495)

I thought the only essential needs were food, water and shelter.

That's true, along with air and sleep*.

Also, needs are defined in different ways depending on circumstance, with no consensus. Certainly food is a need, but is sunshine? We get vitamin D from sunshine, and diet can't make up for lack. Sex is a biological imperative, but can at any time be put off until later.

Needs also form a sort of "hierarchy" [wikipedia.org] , where once you are satisfied at a certain level, adding more at that level will gain you nothing. A company can't raise morale by making the bathroom even cleaner than it is - once the bathroom is "clean enough", extra work makes no appreciable difference. Once you have enough to eat, having more doesn't make you happier.

"Safety" is also a need, and depending on the school of thought it comes before or after food and water.

Once you have several layers of needs met, you reach the layer of "self actualization", which is loosely "the need to accomplish something".

That's what this proposal addresses - the need for people to better themselves, and to do something useful with their time.

This proposal is a good idea in many ways - ethically, economically, technically, environmentally. There's no down-side that I can see.

To take one example (economics), new businesses arise from innovation built on infrastructure. This type of infrastructure will foster an enormous boon in productivity, business, employment, and general well-being of people in the country.

In the same manner that the Interstate Highway System [wikipedia.org] fostered economic progress by giving companies easy access to cheap product delivery.

This is exactly the type of project that centralized government should be doing - it promotes growth, increased productivity, jobs, and general welfare. It's of benefit to the people, and not pork directed to specific selected companies.

*I hope this doesn't read as snarky - that's not my intent.

Re:Essential need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787553)

And air. Don't forget air.

Methinks . . . (4, Insightful)

bogidu (300637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787097)

My takehome pay just decreased again.

Re:Methinks . . . (4, Insightful)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787249)

I'd rather pay my $60/mo to the gov't than to Comcast, assuming I get a similar service in return.

Re:Methinks . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787391)

"I'd rather pay my $60/mo to the gov't than to Comcast, assuming I get a similar service in return."

Are you sure about that?

First, don't assume the government has your best interests at heart (they don't), and second assume everything you do will be fully and completely monitored without the slightest expectation of privacy.

Enjoy your pleasure cruise back to slavery.

Re:Methinks . . . (5, Insightful)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787497)

First, don't assume the government has your best interests at heart (they don't), and second assume everything you do will be fully and completely monitored without the slightest expectation of privacy.

Yep, sounds like similar service to me

Worried about GPS too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787583)

GPS uses government satellites, they can track where you are at all times. BE AFRAID!!!!

Re:Methinks . . . (2)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787779)

The government might not have your best interests at heart, but your best interests are closer to the government's heart then they are to the heart of the corporations that are in control of internet access now.

Re:Methinks . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787533)

I'd rather have Comcast and AT&T each trying to convince me to give them $60/month than the IRS taking $120/month (you know it'll never stay flat) and telling me that my other option is prison.

Re:Methinks . . . (1)

Kaptain Kruton (854928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787617)

Why? I am not a huge fan of Comcast and I do not mean this as a troll... I just don't understand why you would rather pay money to the government than businesses if you are paying the same amount and receiving a similar service.

Re:Methinks . . . (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787689)

All else being equal, I'd rather have a service provider that is legally accountable, however imperfectly, to the end users.

Change who we hold liable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787103)

I'd be happy to leave my wifi open for anyone to use, and I'm sure others would too. Almost anywhere I go there are at least 3-4 wifi signals. However the internet has done a good job of telling everyone if they don't secure their internet then you will go to prison, instead of holding the actual users responsible. So most people lock up their wifi out of fear that the RIAA is going to sue them to an oblivion.

the real conspiracy: killing on-air TV (0)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787115)

there isn't spectrum left to turn back, unless stations sell out and go black.

you want more spectrum, go raid the spectrum hog. 99.4 percent of airwave spectrum in the US is held by the government, and way far and away most of that by the military.

Re:the real conspiracy: killing on-air TV (2)

kaiser423 (828989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787209)

The US government is selling off Upper L-Band TM, lower L-Band TM, and S-Band TM allocations within the next 5-10 years. Those are THE beachfront, prime spectrum bands that the US government owns that can be used for cell networks. The plan has been rolling for at least 5 years already now. It does take a while to upgrade every single test asset that the government uses to the new C-Band spectrum. It's going to take probably 75% of the money that the government will get from sale of this spectrum to pay for the upgrades (aka, tens of billions of dollars).

So, yea, they're working it. In fact, the push has become very, very sustained these last 3-4 years.

Re:the real conspiracy: killing on-air TV (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787381)

Hi. If you mean held for by the government in that they manage and regulate it, then yes. That's what they're supposed to do. If you mean to imply that only the government uses it, then you're amazingly misinformed. Here's a chart that shows the usage allocation of US spectrum. The narrow bar under the spectrum indicates the primary user (commercial-only, government-only, shared)
US Frequency Allocation Table [doc.gov]

Humanitarian(esque) (2)

MatrixCubed (583402) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787119)

Without going into conspiracy theories and donning tinfoil hats, the idealistic situation where I can go "anywhere" and WiFi is available to me, seems nice. I wouldn't need a data plan from my ISP except for extremely rural areas where network penetration is nigh impossible.

Essentially, this is an initiative which attempts to bring everyone up-to-speed with current internet accessibility technology, and puts everyone on an equal playing ground. Folks who can't afford internet access, folks in rural areas who don't bother with internet access due to lifestyle/need or current access limitations. Elderly who often don't approach the internet world due to technology's general confusing nature.

It seems that earliest adoption should be implemented in such a fashion as to bear the most impact for the greatest number of people (e.g. low-income residences, schools, libraries, or some other demographic). But are there other, more important "everyday human" needs, which the FCC can and should address, rather than attempting to offer a public WiFi mega-network?

Never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787133)

Unless the "privatize" it, to keep the rich people happy.

Public Surveillance Network (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787137)

The NSA and FBI fully support this all-encompassing, completely voluntary surveillance^W Wi-Fi network!

Apropos captcha: hemlock

Logical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787139)

It would be a great idea, much like antenna TV. This free Internet (don't call it WiFi), could be limited speed, limited use, and censored (like TV). Then if you want higher speeds, and uncensored you can purchase a service (either wired or wireless) similar to Cable/Satellite TV. There could even be Ads on it to pay for the service, either local ISPs or government can provide the service, or purpose built companies, like TV/Radio stations, and there could even be competition, to allow for the broadcasters to charge more for ad space.

mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787141)

I wish we could just have an open wireless mesh network where there were no "providers", no "carriers" period.

Re:mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787219)

But then there would be no control.
Without control there is no power.
Without power there is no wealth.
Without wealth there is no cake.

Conservatives will hate this. (3, Funny)

sidragon.net (1238654) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787151)

The government has no business spending on infrastructure. Roads, bridges, telephones, police, fire fighters, and democracy have all been bad enough for our great nation!

Logical (1)

TEG24601 (1850816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787179)

It would be a great idea, much like antenna TV. This free Internet (don't call it WiFi), could be limited speed, limited use, and censored (like TV). Then if you want higher speeds, and uncensored you can purchase a service (either wired or wireless) similar to Cable/Satellite TV. There could even be Ads on it to pay for the service, either local ISPs or government can provide the service, or purpose built companies, like TV/Radio stations, and there could even be competition, to allow for the broadcasters to charge more for ad space.

Re:Logical (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787225)

I'm not happy about the government running it censored - once the government has shown that they can keep the evil dirty porn and pirate sites blocked (Even though any script-kiddie will soon learn how to bypass this), there will be strong pressure on private ISPs to follow. Running it uncensored isn't going to fly for long politically, so it'd be better to have the government keep their hands off.

I personally do not want to pay for any ones. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787185)

Internet this is far fetched do I have to pay for their electricity to keep the net up too.
Come on now kids without internet you see how important it is to go to school say nope to dope and get a job.
If killer porn aint enough to motivate you lads I dont think your going to need the net much.

How long before this happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787187)

YOU ARE ACCESSING A U.S. GOVERNMENT (USG) INFORMATION SYSTEM (IS) THAT IS PROVIDED FOR USG-AUTHORIZED USE ONLY. By using this IS (which includes any device attached to this IS), you consent to the following conditions:

The USG routinely intercepts and monitors communications on this IS for purposes including, but not limited to, penetration testing, COMSEC monitoring, network operations and defense, personnel misconduct (PM), law enforcement (LE), and counterintelligence (CI) investigations.
At any time, the USG may inspect and seize data stored on this IS.
Communications using, or data stored on, this IS are not private, are subject to routine monitoring, interception, and search, and may be disclosed or used for any USG authorized purpose.
This IS includes security measures (e.g., authentication and access controls) to protect USG interests--not for your personal benefit or privacy.
Notwithstanding the above, using this IS does not constitute consent to PM, LE or CI investigative searching or monitoring of the content of privileged communications, or work product, related to personal representation or services by attorneys, psychotherapists, or clergy, and their assistants. Such communications and work product are private and confidential. See User Agreement for details.
By clicking accept, you affirm that you have taken the annual Information Assurance Awareness and PII training.

Uh No (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787207)

I don't want the Federal Government running some general public access internet. Very Bad Idea.

I do want the FCC to open up existing infrastructure to alternative carriers. The current plan which allows carriers to exclude competitors is very bad.

I do want the FCC to make available bandwidth to more carriers, and to open up more bandwidth to WiFi.

I do want Congress to pass a law banning cable franchises by local and state governments.

I do want laws specifically enabling municipal internet utilities, especially on this new bandwidth.

I don't want my Internet access like my Library (2, Insightful)

cdecoro (882384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787297)

It's all well and good to talk about internet access being a "right" or a "public service," but please realize that simply because some government passes a law saying so, doesn't mean that wide-spread free internet access will come to pass. Take the example of my library: they are closed at times that someone might actually want to go, like in the evening after normal people from work, most of Sunday, and all major -- and most minor -- holidays. Their computer terminals seem to be something from the era of the IBM AT; and there are only 4 of them. The employees are surly and even aggressive, and don't care to be even the slightest bit helpful. And the entire building is decrepit and smells.

So I have the "right" to free information at a library (actually, I pay for it in taxes, but whatever), but the manifestation of that right is such that I don't actually want it. Yet we are expected to believe that, although our government can't run a library, despite having had hundreds of years to figure out, they're going to do a great job with modern and rapidly changing technologies. Call me pessimistic, but I don't see it happening.

The solution is to promote competition in Internet access: end the (government-created and propped-up) cable, phone, and wireless monopolies, and once there is a healthy market, let the market take care of lowering prices.

Recall that the U.S.S.R. declared food to be a basic human right, to be provided by the government. And who could argue with that, right? Yet the result was bread lines and empty shelves. In the U.S., we don't declare food to be a government-provided right, and yet we have so much food that our poor people are obese.

To preempt the flamers: no, I'm not arguing that the government should never have a role in assisting the poor (sometimes it should), or that companies are always good, or that the market is always perfect (they aren't; it's not). But I am extremely cautious in endorsing this as a good idea, for the above-stated reasons that have nothing to do with my own (non-existant) profit margins or political donations. So when others oppose it, please don't automatically ascribe such motives to them, either.

"Free? I do not think this word means ... (2, Interesting)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787349)

... what you think it means. "

How can these jackasses continue to use words like "free" to make it sound like they are giving a gift to the nation when we are the ones they will damn well expect to pay for it with taxes? And why arent each and every one of you calling them out for it?

Re:"Free? I do not think this word means ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787647)

Because we are reasonable people who understand that "free" can have more than one meaning, one of them being "paid for by your taxes".

You are not the rare island of sanity in the sea of lunatics that you so desperately want to be seen as. And you never will be.

Re:"Free? I do not think this word means ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787801)

I think you mean paid for by my taxes

Re:"Free? I do not think this word means ... (2)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787719)

Why arent each and every one of you calling them out for it?

Because I already pay an Internet tax, to AT&T. I've been paying it to them for 10 years, and despite a whirlwind of technical advancement they haven't improved my service or lowered my price in a decade. In fact, my home service is more constrained and monitored than it was ten years ago.

I'm ready to try plan B.

Singapore already does this (1)

SoulMaster (717007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787385)

I realize that it's a much smaller, and MUCH richer country than ours, but Singapore already does this. There, you have a choice: Use the free Gov't access, choose a different provider (or tether), or do some combination of both.

Done right, this could simply be another competitor in what will soon be a crowded field. Obviously, there's going to be some mistrust of how the gov't will use the collected data, but I would guess that the majority of people don't care enough about how (or are ignorant to the fact that) the government is going to use the tracking data for it to be anything other than a minor news story if this moves forward.

My 2 bytes.

-SM

More Surveillance. (2)

7-Vodka (195504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787437)

Ya. Like the government doesn't already illegally copy and store all our data they can get their hands on. And then tries to imprison the whistleblowers that let us know they were conducting these illegal acts. I can think of no one better to host my wifi sessions *rolls eyes*.

A strategy like that can only help to cut out the middleman and increase data availability. (your private data, availability to the fascist nutters.)

I'm more interested in how long it takes someone to figure out the gold standards for privacy online in today's environment and make a debian distro that enables fine grained control of these standards with ease.

When are we going to build an encrypted network on top of the internet and just cut out the government clowns?

Whats the Catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787455)

Whats the catch? Google tried like crazy to get a similar standard implemented before the TV spectrum was even auctioned off? The FCC and communications companies fought tooth and nail to prevent it. And why would they need to buy back part of the spectrum. I thought several blocks of spectrum had never been purchased, simply designate one of those blocks as a "free wi-fi" band and create some standards that must be abided by to use it. Something tells me that if the FCC makes the standards and doesn't require any cumbersome licensing that Wi-fi manufacturers will jump at it and produce everything from little home units to city wide transmitters. Simply requiring that all access points provide basic free service (+256 K?), but can provide High Speed access for a reasonable fee would likely make activity on these frequencies explode.

Social Albatrosses (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787539)

If religious groups are fighting tooth and nail against a woman's right to sexual healthcare, you can imagine how much of the Internet they would want banned on public wifi. The blacklists would be longer than both of their works of fiction combined.

Community Driven (1)

duxklr (1652853) | about a year and a half ago | (#42787671)

We can start now: https://openwireless.org/ [openwireless.org]

wtroolkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42787693)

The above Is far
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