Free Nationwide Wi-Fi, Coming Soon?

The Federal Communications Commission is planning nationwide free Wi-Fi, according to the Washington Post. The massive undertaking would create a series of free networks across the nation, utilizing the “white space” of open channels that exists around current TV airwaves.

The first snag? This claim is totally bogus.

As Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica reports:

“The frenzy began Monday morning when the Washington Post reported that “the federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation… free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas,” the Post reported.

Unfortunately, the piece was basically nonsense. What had really happened was in fact unbelievably boring: the Post simply observed an incremental development in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the Federal Communications Commission over the issue of incentive auctions that might free up some additional unlicensed spectrum for so-called “White Space Devices” operating in and around the current over-the-air TV bands.”

What was just a few small rulings pertaining to the auctioning of freed-up airwaves was mutilated into a bold announcement of the dawn of Free Public Wi-Fi. I am not surprised that they attempted to make this claim, however. Rumors of government-funded Free Public Wi-Fi have been circulating ever since I was a kid.

Furthermore, this Washington Post article is absurd. The notion of Free Public Wi-Fi is absurd. The most absurd part is the word “Free”.

Do I need to start talking about free lunches?

Think about how often your own wireless router goes down; Now multiply that by a couple hundred thousand (at least) very expensive industrial-strength routers. The maintenance costs would be outrageous. Anyone who thinks it would be “free” is delusional. It would be an insanely expensive boondoggle.

It would, however, create a legion of jobs for bureaucrats at the FCC. That is why I do think the FCC will eventually pursue this idea, if possible. Free Public Wi-Fi will enable numerous bureaucrats at the FCC to expand their influence, thereby –> hiring more employees and expanding their authority –> making themselves appear more important and relevant –> justifying a raise in pay for themselves and bolstering job security –> keeping their job at a comfy salary. Congratulations! You now understand nearly every governmental agency’s reason for existence.

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