The FCC Proposal For Nationwide WiFi Networks

This blog entry stems from a course assignment in INF 202 ??? Introduction to Data and Databases.  My topic is the FCC proposal for free WiFi networks across the United States.

For those of us that do not know, the FCC is the Federal Communications Commission, whose task it is to regulate multiple aspects of communication in the United States.  One such aspect is that of broadband internet, and in extension, wireless internet.  Earlier in February it was reported by a number of news agencies that the FCC has proposed the creation of WiFi networks large enough to cover the United States, and to make those networks free to the public.

The networks that are being proposed are to be much more powerful than those that we are familiar with today, with emphasis added to the ability to penetrate concrete walls and travel easily over geographic terrain such as hills, mountains and trees.  Such power is speculated to make WiFi available to rural areas that currently do not have broadband internet access.

Some notable advantages of implementing this technology would include allowing driver less cars to communicate with each other over an area of miles, or having a patient’s heart monitor connect to a hospital while the patient is at home.

Currently there is fierce opposition to the proposal, coming primarily from the wireless industry and cellphone providers, whom are lobbying for policy makers to reconsider the idea.  A point that they make is that the new WiFi networks would become too congested, especially in cities.  However, this lobbying campaign is being countered by an unusual partnership between Microsoft and Google, who are pressing for the creation of these networks.  They are touting the idea that a nationwide WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

I feel that this is a very important conversation to have, especially as far as the United States is concerned.  This proposal, drafted by the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, would be groundbreaking, and a first for the world.  The idea of having WiFi available for the majority of Americans, for free, would connect the public in a variety of ways that would benefit businesses, infrastructure, emergency responders, and families in general.

Something that this ties into in relation to INF202 was a recent lecture about Big Data, how it can be used, and how it is connected.  In regards to the FCC’s proposal, I believe that implementing the WiFi networks would cause an explosion of new data to be available to analyze.  Primarily due to the fact that those that cannot afford broadband internet at home would be able to connect like those who can, enabling millions of people to explore and share.  A wireless United States would create a foundation for other countries to follow, thereby furthering the reach of technology into people???s lives.  With the possibility of the world being connected free of charge, there will be a sharing of knowledge, information and ideas that I do not believe that we can fathom today.

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David Auger received his Bachelors in History in Winter 2009.  He is currently a Program Coordinator for Capital Region BOCES and is studying to receive a Bachelors in Information Science.

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