Rumor had it that back in February, that the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) planned to make Wi-Fi free for
most of the country.
The Washington Post
first detailed the plan, saying it would extend free Wi-Fi to
nearly every metropolitan area in the United States, along with
"many rural areas."
Without providing a great deal of detail, in theory the FCC
would force local TV stations to sell chunks of airwave spectrum
rights to the U.S. government, which would then use them for
public Wi-Fi networks.
Clearly, such a move would be a game changer - altering the
communication landscape forever. Traditional cellular networks
would be drastically affected in a negative way. Conversely,
Internet companies would flourish with increasing numbers of
citizens using their services.
According to The Washington Post report, cellular carriers
such as AT&T (NYSE:
), Intel (NASDAQ:
), and Verizon (NYSE:
) object to what they see as the crippling effect nationwide free
wireless would have on their business.
This is something they are already seeing with regard to SMS
revenues with the advent of mobile messaging services like
WhatsApp, Pinger, and GroupMe, which use the Internet to send
free text messages.
As for the advocates, Google (NASDAQ:
) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:
) see things quite differently. From their perspective, a free
nationwide Wi-Fi network means more business and more customers
There's just one problem. There is no FCC plan to provide free
Jon Brodkin at
put the kibosh on the whole "free Wi-Fi" story, saying it was
Brodkin faulted The Washington Post's reporter Cecilia Kang
for taking a minor development in the FCC's rules concerning
"incentive auctions that might free up some additional unlicensed
spectrum for so-called 'White Space Devices,'" and essentially,
jumping to conclusions that were not there.
So that's it, then? End of story? Not quite. Remember Google?
The company apparently still has ambitions to wire the world, one
community at a time, if necessary.
So far, Google has provided free Wi-Fi to its hometown of
Mountainview, parts of New York City, Kansas City and most
recently, Douglasville, GA, as reported by the
Douglas County Sentinal
That's not all.
also reported Friday a rumor that Google has been in negotiations
for four to five weeks to acquire cross-platform messaging app,
The deal, reportedly worth almost $1 billion, would fill
Google's cross-platform messaging needs nicely and, more
importantly, quickly, an important aspect of non-cellular Wi-Fi
service for users.
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco has no position in
any of the mentioned equities
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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