Public Wi-Fi from the FCC too good to be true

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Despite a recent Washington Post report that suggested the Federal Communications Commission plans to create free Wi-Fi all across the country, the FCC does not, in fact, plan to do so.

Nonetheless, the idea of widespread free Wi-Fi drew support from many observers. "The plan has immense disruptive potential: If successful, it could cause many people to cancel their cellular and Internet plans in favor of connecting to the Internet via the free public Wi-Fi networks," an article on the tech website Mashable said.

Another tech website, Dvice, added, "We're sold. Let's do this," and noted how public Wi-Fi could expand Internet access to the poor.

A post on the Motherboard blog said "the potential benefits to citizens are immense" and called Internet access "an essential need on par with education access."

The Post article itself summoned a vision of the potential future, where public Wi-Fi "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."

The potential for new, more powerful Wi-Fi stems from a larger FCC proposal to buy broadcast TV spectrum in a reverse auction and then let others bid on it for use as wireless broadband.

Some of the newly available spectrum would be available for unlicensed use, which would allow for innovations like next-generation Wi-Fi. The current technology has its origins in unlicensed spectrum.

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