Your ISP May Prevent You From Getting Free Internet Access

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Your ISP May Prevent You From Getting Free Internet Access

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Could the U.S. be a country of free internet?

Update: The Hill notes that the plan discussed by the FCC in the original article on The Washington Post isn't new, but has been discussed and debated before, though no FCC vote on it has yet been held. There's also the issue of who would build the network on the freed-up bands, as the FCC wouldn't actually be the ones constructing it.

Original Article: If you live in the United States, you should know that the Federal Communications Commission wants you to have 100% free high-speed internet access. The government feels that access to the information superhighway (yes, I pulled that term straight out of 1999) is necessary, and that you shouldn't have to hand out cash each month for the privilege. Unsurprisingly, most internet service providers don't feel the same way, and communications companies that make a mint off of internet subscribers are digging their heels in for the fight.

The FCC's plan involves buying back portions of airwaves from television providers and other broadcast networks, then opening those bands to create a free, nationwide WiFi network. The always-on, no-cost internet access would not only help more individuals get online, but could also pave the way for communications innovations in a variety of industries.

Shocking absolutely no one, companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are firmly against this plan, as it could mean the potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue. However, the FCC does have a couple of big names on its side, including Microsoft and Google, both of whom feel that lowering the barrier to getting online is crucial for the country to continue to innovate.

If the FCC's plan comes to fruition, it would still be several years before a wireless infrastructure could be set up, and there are many obstacles in its way. Oh, and you can bet your ISP will be using your monthly payment to fight the movement every step of the way.

Source: Washington Post

Image Credit: roland

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Old corporations are scared,Google wants to rule the world,M$ just wants more wallets to suck from,welcome to corporate internet folks,we hope you enjoy your stay,btw that costs 14,99$ per registration.
And always remember it's all free to pay

Unsurprisingly, most internet service providers doesn't feel the same way

Don't?

Nice idea, but even if it were to happen, the service quality would no doubt go to crap with that many more people all jumping on once it was free.

Interesting.

If there does end up being a government supported network, I suspect we'd find a lot more sites banned and censored as they'd finally have the reigns of control.

On the other hand, that might make private services try claim back customers by promising to not support such bans.

It could end up a win-win.

Free internet sounds great. Couple of problems the priorities seem to be a bit off I dunno but free healthcare would be nice and would seem to be a bit more important than free internet. The other problem who is going to be paying for the instalation and maintanence of this free wifi oh it's the Government which basicly means the taxpayers. Secondly if the Government is running the means of accessing the internet I'm sure they will want some control over whats on it and what it gets used for meaning stuff like SOPA and the other bill they tried to get through will be much harder to stop.

Free internet suddenly became a whole lot less free.

This would be an incredible boon to small businesses & innovative start-up's throughout the country

Telecom's, quick! Hop on killing this plan!

Edit: there are inherent issues, of course: net neutrality would be a concern, but then it already is, just from a different angle. Tax dollars would be paying for it, although the value to the economy would hopefully offset that.

I'm personally curious to see how the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) tries to deal with this

gotta love capitalism..

T3hSource:
Old corporations are scared,Google wants to rule the world,M$ just wants more wallets to suck from,welcome to corporate internet folks,we hope you enjoy your stay,btw that costs 14,99$ per registration.
And always remember it's all "free" to pay

yes, because these firms make masive ammounts of money IN the internet, not of the internet like these old companies do..

How about you make it so that everyone CAN have high speed internet? Living at the end of the street has probably wasted YEARS of life.

ron1n:

Unsurprisingly, most internet service providers doesn't feel the same way

Don't?

Nice idea, but even if it were to happen, the service quality would no doubt go to crap with that many more people all jumping on once it was free.

I'm only 3 cups of coffee in right now. Corrected. ;)

Just how do they think they are going to pay for all this? The airwave sell off brought billions in revenue and then they are going have to pay for an entirely new infrastructure and then maintain it. You are going to have to pay for all that one or another. Also a single state owned internet provider isn't that best idea in the world. Every decision becomes a political decision, you could easily see porn an poker sites getting banned from a state owned system. Apart from everything else, it is vulnerable to industrial action in way that a private company isn't.

This sounds pretty damned far-fetched to be honest. I want to know where they're going to get the money for this. I'm also not entirely sure I am comfortable with the government directly controlling my access. Look at the censorship public broadcast and AM/FM radio has to deal with for a good example of what I mean.

As for the corporations. This isn't a death sentence by any means, but it'd definitely require them to adapt.

Free?.. Free is just another word for communist. DAMNIT OBAMA!

This could be pretty cool but there's the possibility that if the government wanted to censor something they'd have a lot easier time of it if they where an ISP, which obviously isn't great.

I am wary of giving any control to the government, but damn if 'free' isn't a wonderful wonderful price for internets. As for where the government will get the money: We're already trillions of dollars in debt. What's another few billion between friends?

So why is free internet necessary to live while food isn't?
Yeah, internet isn't a luxury anymore. It's a "must have". You need it to get a job, to stay in contact, to have social life... but there are also tons of other stuff that you need, so why are people just now fighting for free internet?
Few years ago, you needed a mobile phone, some years before you needed a normal phone. You absolutely need food, electricity, water, heating/cooling, cloths... so what makes the internet need special to ask for it to be free?

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't say no to free internet, but I'm just curious to why the internet and not some other, more necessary stuff.

Fappy:
This sounds pretty damned far-fetched to be honest. I want to know where they're going to get the money for this. I'm also not entirely sure I am comfortable with the government directly controlling my access. Look at the censorship public broadcast and AM/FM radio has to deal with for a good example of what I mean.

As for the corporations. This isn't a death sentence by any means, but it'd definitely require them to adapt.

That's the thing. The FCC *wants* us all to have free internet, and they want to free up the bands to allow it to happen, but that's pretty much where their involvement ends. The FCC won't be out building towers or anything, they're kind of just paving the way for someone else to do it, but it's a pricey proposition to build a giant free wifi network and not expect revenue from it. I mean, could Google or MS (or both) bankroll it? Would it pay off for them in the long run? Who knows.

This whole thing strikes me as extremely suspicious. I'm not sure I trust any of the parties involved.

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
This sounds pretty damned far-fetched to be honest. I want to know where they're going to get the money for this. I'm also not entirely sure I am comfortable with the government directly controlling my access. Look at the censorship public broadcast and AM/FM radio has to deal with for a good example of what I mean.

As for the corporations. This isn't a death sentence by any means, but it'd definitely require them to adapt.

That's the thing. The FCC *wants* us all to have free internet, and they want to free up the bands to allow it to happen, but that's pretty much where their involvement ends. The FCC won't be out building towers or anything, they're kind of just paving the way for someone else to do it, but it's a pricey proposition to build a giant free wifi network and not expect revenue from it. I mean, could Google or MS (or both) bankroll it? Would it pay off for them in the long run? Who knows.

I'd say Google is the most likely candidate, but that's also kind of a scary notion to think about. Google's already surpassed anything you could describe as godlike power D:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/02/no-free-wi-fi-isnt-coming-to-every-us-city/

No offense, but I think this story has been debunked a bit. The original Washington Post article that sparked all of this was basically incorrect on a bunch of things...namely the free part. The FCC is merely asking for public comment on unlicensed White Spaces to be used in so-called "Super Wi-Fi" that could cover larger areas with less interference. There's nothing about it being "free" for everyone to use.

Basically, Super Wi-Fi is just regular Wi-Fi with longer range. Using the Wi-Fi connection is free* (after the cost of hardware), but it doesn't actually DO anything unless there's an internet connection behind it. ISP's will still be required to actually serve up the digital bits behind the network, and they'll still charge. It will basically be what Clearwire ( http://www.clearwire.com/ ) is doing, except using Super Wi-Fi rather than 4G.

That's probably why the ISP's don't like it too. Not because they'll have to compete with free, because they won't, but because ANYONE could come in with Super Wi-Fi driven broadband and compete with them, rather than consumers just being left with the choice between members of their local duopoly.

MikeWehner:
The government feels that access to the information superhighway (yes, I pulled that term straight out of 1999) is necessary, and that you shouldn't have to hand out cash each month for the privilege.

That's a pretty bizarre thing for the government to feel. Access to water, electricity, food, roads, education, healthcare, telephones, postal service and the aqueduct are all considered necessary, but no-one seems to feel we should have free access to them all. Even in countries where some services are free at point of access, we still have to pay for them at some point. And many of those things are significantly more necessary than pretty much anything else. What exactly is so special about the internet that makes it so important for everyone to get it for free when a significant portion of the population can't even afford to see a doctor?

Kahani:

MikeWehner:
The government feels that access to the information superhighway (yes, I pulled that term straight out of 1999) is necessary, and that you shouldn't have to hand out cash each month for the privilege.

That's a pretty bizarre thing for the government to feel. Access to water, electricity, food, roads, education, healthcare, telephones, postal service and the aqueduct are all considered necessary, but no-one seems to feel we should have free access to them all. Even in countries where some services are free at point of access, we still have to pay for them at some point. And many of those things are significantly more necessary than pretty much anything else. What exactly is so special about the internet that makes it so important for everyone to get it for free when a significant portion of the population can't even afford to see a doctor?

Heck, the internet isn't even a UTILITY like water, electricity and gas. That's why it doesn't go on your credit report, and it doesn't go on welfare and loan applications and such as a utility expense. If the government thinks it's as necessary as the other utilities, they certainly aren't showing it.

Canadish:
Interesting.

If there does end up being a government supported network, I suspect we'd find a lot more sites banned and censored as they'd finally have the reigns of control.

On the other hand, that might make private services try claim back customers by promising to not support such bans.

It could end up a win-win.

Or it would force ISPs to start offering unlimited Internet access in order to compete with this. I wish the CRTC or someone would set up something like this up here in Canada.

Great, that'll save me 10 a month for a service which I have a complaints line for, and multiple competitors to threaten to move to if things go wrong. With any luck, the frighteningly expensive replacement infrastructure will cost more than that in taxes, be of poor quality, and greatly diminish what can be shared on it!

Wait..

canadamus_prime:
Or it would force ISPs to start offering unlimited Internet access in order to compete with this. I wish the CRTC or someone would set up something like this up here in Canada.

Bell Canada has started offering unlimited for an additional 10 dollars a month. There are also other services, not Bell or Rogers, that already do.

Well, since Google (aka: the Future Overlords of Earth) supports it, free internet is pretty much inevitable now.

Waaghpowa:

canadamus_prime:
Or it would force ISPs to start offering unlimited Internet access in order to compete with this. I wish the CRTC or someone would set up something like this up here in Canada.

Bell Canada has started offering unlimited for an additional 10 dollars a month. There are also other services, not Bell or Rogers, that already do.

Yeah, except I shouldn't have to pay extra for something that should be standard.

canadamus_prime:

Waaghpowa:

canadamus_prime:
Or it would force ISPs to start offering unlimited Internet access in order to compete with this. I wish the CRTC or someone would set up something like this up here in Canada.

Bell Canada has started offering unlimited for an additional 10 dollars a month. There are also other services, not Bell or Rogers, that already do.

Yeah, except I shouldn't have to pay extra for something that should be standard.

You wouldn't be paying extra with the "Other guys". We have Distributel. 40 bucks a month, 28 mbs down, 10mbs up, unlimited cable.

Waaghpowa:

canadamus_prime:

Waaghpowa:

Bell Canada has started offering unlimited for an additional 10 dollars a month. There are also other services, not Bell or Rogers, that already do.

Yeah, except I shouldn't have to pay extra for something that should be standard.

You wouldn't be paying extra with the "Other guys". We have Distributel. 40 bucks a month, 28 mbs down, 10mbs up, unlimited cable.

Well that's not what their website says, still looks interesting. I wonder if they're available in my area.

Would be fairly easy to recoup for google.

Look at their Fiber program
https://fiber.google.com/about/

They already are offering free internet to people with fiberoptics, and charging for premium uber internet.

They could do the same thing with nation wide wifi

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
This sounds pretty damned far-fetched to be honest. I want to know where they're going to get the money for this. I'm also not entirely sure I am comfortable with the government directly controlling my access. Look at the censorship public broadcast and AM/FM radio has to deal with for a good example of what I mean.

As for the corporations. This isn't a death sentence by any means, but it'd definitely require them to adapt.

That's the thing. The FCC *wants* us all to have free internet, and they want to free up the bands to allow it to happen, but that's pretty much where their involvement ends. The FCC won't be out building towers or anything, they're kind of just paving the way for someone else to do it, but it's a pricey proposition to build a giant free wifi network and not expect revenue from it. I mean, could Google or MS (or both) bankroll it? Would it pay off for them in the long run? Who knows.

The phone companies paid the FCC a combined total of $19 billion for the right to use the 4G spectrum for 10 years. Now the FCC wants to spend their money on buying another part of the spectrum and giving it away for free, to a competitor of 4G. Do you really wonder why they are against it? Even if they go ahead with it, the airspace cannot go to an American company or the German government (T-mobile is German) will be screaming illegal state aid faster than you can say WTO.

I still don't know how so many sites got this waaay wrong. Its the White Spaces proposal, that hopefully will go through so more services can get up and running and more local services.

Just want to point out a side of the story no one's talking about:

I am taking a class at my college from the guy who runs the college's PBS (Read: Public or Free) station, and HE believes it is a disaster. Due to FCC buybacks and distributions of bandwidth, there is literally no place left for him to go. If this plan goes through, he and his colleagues throughout the state have no place to go, meaning that at the very least our state will be completely devoid of public (again, read as free) broadcast, and will severely hamper if not shut down the television and radio divisions of our state's colleges.

But at least everyone has free access to porn, right?

Kahani:

MikeWehner:
The government feels that access to the information superhighway (yes, I pulled that term straight out of 1999) is necessary, and that you shouldn't have to hand out cash each month for the privilege.

That's a pretty bizarre thing for the government to feel. Access to water, electricity, food, roads, education, healthcare, telephones, postal service and the aqueduct are all considered necessary, but no-one seems to feel we should have free access to them all. Even in countries where some services are free at point of access, we still have to pay for them at some point. And many of those things are significantly more necessary than pretty much anything else. What exactly is so special about the internet that makes it so important for everyone to get it for free when a significant portion of the population can't even afford to see a doctor?

My guess would be commerce. Yeah, I have to be the guy thinking that there's little to no altruism behind the idea and a lot more corporate agenda pushing. My boss goes nuts that there are people that want paper bills and don't want to pay online. That all costs stamps, paper, extra prcessing time, and that's just a simple example. As comapnies try to move to the efficient paperless office, they get held back by people that live in the digital stone age. The same holds true on the content end as digital sales can get held back by people without the wifi for their wireless device (that has no wire port) or are held back from downloading by bandwidth caps. No doubt there's similar concern about maintaining wired services that become out of date very quickly and they want to move to full wifi instead of laying out fibre optic cable.

I've actually been expecting movement in this direction for a while now as the more everything became digital only the more we'd have to deal with people that couldn't keep up.

Your Gaffer:
I still don't know how so many sites got this waaay wrong. Its the White Spaces proposal, that hopefully will go through so more services can get up and running and more local services.

Yep, I said as much up above. However, I think everyone is just too enamored with the idea of free internet to look closely at the facts here. Oh, and hey, just for kicks, here's a different article debunking the whole thing, this time from Slate: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/02/05/fcc_super_wifi_plan_there_is_no_plan.html

Escapist Staff: Can you PLEASE either pull down or correct this article? Even with the minor update earlier today it's still far afield of what's actually going on here.

Microsoft could do this in a very pro-Windows way. Just make it so only authorized Microsoft made devices could connect to the free network. That would be a pretty good reason to by Windows software. It could also be done with each individual copy of the OS having a code with it that you must give to someone with the company, in store or online, to be able to actually activate it on your system so Pirated copies of Windows means no free internet.

alfinchkid:
Just want to point out a side of the story no one's talking about:

I am taking a class at my college from the guy who runs the college's PBS (Read: Public or Free) station, and HE believes it is a disaster. Due to FCC buybacks and distributions of bandwidth, there is literally no place left for him to go. If this plan goes through, he and his colleagues throughout the state have no place to go, meaning that at the very least our state will be completely devoid of public (again, read as free) broadcast, and will severely hamper if not shut down the television and radio divisions of our state's colleges.

But at least everyone has free access to porn, right?

Isn't PBS already assigned a frequency/channel to use? Although one could argue free internet basically replaces PBS as he could do a webcast or have forums everyone can reach.

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