back to article FCC boss mulls free* wireless for all

The US Federal Communications Commission is mulling a plan that would blanket America with free wireless broadband. Not to mention online ads and content filters. On Friday, as reported by RCR Wireless News, FCC boss Kevin Martin told some reporter types that the commission may auction off another 25-MHz of largely unused …


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  1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    The $2.2 billion D-block auction is theft.

    in return for "buying" my 5 bucks worth of bandwidth, the greedy carrier will charge me $30 - $60 per month to use it.

    The airwaves belong to the people... not the FCC.

    Everybody loses when this virtually unlimited (thanks to MIMO) spectrum is made the private realm of some corporation.

    paris cause she could afford to bid. (and ill still marry her if she dumps the kid.

  2. Herby
    Thumb Down

    And who determines "family friendly"??

    Or for that matter what adverts are shown? Me? You? the bandwidth provider? And what about peer to peer communication? Will it be throttled to allow those "family friendly" web sites to prevail?

    No! this makes no sense at all. Either it is open, or it is a mess, and the government bureaucrats will be under pressure from SOME group (there are many) who don't want something on this segment of the airways.


  3. Chris

    FCC and content filtering

    Of course the FCC love an idea that has content filtering. Got to "Think of the Children"(tm)!

  4. Chris C


    "That's not the way a speedy government ought to work."

    I'm sorry, but who ever made the mistake of calling the US government "speedy" (at least since the end of the Cold War)? Or even any single branch, organization, or department of the US government? Anyone with more brain cells than an amoeba will tell you the US government is anything but speedy (especially those foreign citizens who need to renew their Green Cards).

    As for the subject of this article, I just have to ask -- why? Why do we act as if wireless internet access is going to save mankind? Why do we act as if it's a necessity? It's not, especially when you consider the value of the internet. As time rolls on, the internet becomes more and more useless. People can use all the buzzwords they'd like, but the truth is that with every passing day, the internet becomes more and more a joke. Yes, it grows more every day, but that doesn't mean it gets better. Anyone who was here from the beginning up until it became popular around 1995-1996 or so (right around the time 33.6kbps modems became popular) will tell you it's gone to hell. Seriously, are we to believe that eBay, YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, Wikipedia, Second Life, and more spam than you can shake a stick at have actually increased the true value of the internet?

    Speaking more broadly, let's also dispense with the notion that computers help people learn, or that filling our schools and homes with computers will result in smarter people. Right around the time the US started putting computers into its schools en mass is when students started becoming more stupid (which, as it turns out, is exactly when the internet started becoming popular).

    If anything, I would say the internet has destroyed the hacker mentality. Look at the young people (age 16 and younger) you know and those around you. How many have the hacker mentality? How many really want to know how a computer works? How many are completely enraptured with learning and seeing how they can push the hardware? How many know what a BBS was? How many would recognize the name Future Crew? How many have heard of Mode X? How many know which ports are used for video? Hell, how many even know what a port is? How many would care to see what they could cram into the fewest bytes possible, like the old 4k and 64k comps? Most people nowadays say bloat doesn't matter because processor speed, memory, and storage has increased so much. What was the last demo you saw, and when was it made? The last ANSi art? The last MOD, S3M, MTM, or 669 you listened to? The last BBS you dialed?

    Progress is a wonderful thing, but if you ask me, the internet (and Windows 95 and up) has destroyed the seed of curiosity which was implanted into so many of us, and has destroyed the communities we grew up with through BBSing. Nowadays most people get into IT because they think it's a high-paying field, or because it's become the "cool" thing to do. But look around at the youth of today and ask yourself -- do you really think the youth of today have anything of substance to offer the field? Will the youth of today revolutionize computers the way IBM, HP, Sun, Intel, AMD, VIA, and Transmeta did? Will they push the audio-visual envelope the way Future Crew and other demo groups did? Will they revolutionize gameplay the way id, Apogee, 3drealms, and Epic Megagames did? Somehow, I doubt it.

    The internet is a great thing to an extent. Email can keep people in touch over great distances at low cost. We (those of us not firewalled from the world) can see what's really going on without having to rely on local/national media we don't trust. We can easily communicate with the manufacturers of the products we buy, download product manuals, etc. But in many areas online shopping has displaced local shopping (as has Wal-Mart, but that's a discussion for another day). Search results have gone from meaningful to useless because of the extra noise and spam (and why the hell does Google return results when the words I typed only appeared on a page linking to that result, not actually appearing in the result shown?). And the internet has become a place where every idiot with a browser can make their own "home" and upload their life story, letting everyone know, in excruciating detail, every second of their mundane existence.

    It's like television. 300 channels, and it's all shit. And yet we act like it's a necessity. Don't worry about the hungry or the homeless. Just give me my free wireless internet access.

  5. Aret N C

    @ Chris C

    S3M. Wow. It's like I can see the endless rows scrolling by me again . . . like a spreadsheet, only louder.

  6. Stephen Hurd

    95% coverage measured how

    Do they want 95% of the area of the USA or 95% of the residents? It reads like the mean area which is quite silly since there are large swaths which do not have any permanent residents (easily more than 5% of the total area).

  7. Filippo Silver badge

    @Chris C

    Nostalgia much? I don't get how ANSI art or a MOD would have any more inherent virtue than the average lolcat or youtube video, and BBSs were 95% full of crap just like the Internet today. The situation hasn't improved, but it hasn't got worse either.

  8. Spleen

    @Chris C

    "Seriously, are we to believe that eBay, YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, Wikipedia, Second Life, and more spam than you can shake a stick at have actually increased the true value of the internet?"

    Yes. They may have decreased the value per web page, or the value per capita, or some similar measure, but even a completely worthless page merely adds +0 to the overall value of the Internet. Web pages are not a conserved resource. When someone uploads another useless blog or video it doesn't mean that Monster has to take a job advert down or The Times has to remove an article. The Internet is just as good for job search, local directories, serious news, any "proper" use you can think of which would be useful to anyone as it ever was. "Anyone" there includes those who can't currently afford connections of their own. The useless stuff only affects the useful stuff in terms of bandwidth, which 'proper' web pages don't need much of anyway, and apparently Bittorrent is the big resource hog on that front.

    Also, you're officially old. That isn't a baseless insult, it became a fact when you began a sentence beginning "will the youth of today..." followed by a list of stuff they won't. You've forgotten how the generation above you kept telling you "you're useless, you're shit, you're lazy, you're cowardly, you'll never achieve what we did" so you're now repeating the mantra to the generation below you. As Roald Dahl said, that's the point when you become old.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Chris C

    What utter rubbish you speek.

    I am to lazy to pull the whole thing apart, but, for a start...

    "Right around the time the US started putting computers into its schools en mass is when students started becoming more stupid" Where is your back up? That sounds like a silly comment from a bitter tabloid hack. There is no basis in that.

    And as for the idea that "Nowadays most people get into IT because they think it's a high-paying field" what dose that have to do with the internet not being usefull? That is like people complaining that the car is useless because most people cant change a wheel.

    Calm down!

  10. b

    I remember

    when this was all bit-fields.

  11. Steve

    @ Chris C

    How many of those hackers you fondly remember could etch a silicon wafer, build a vacuum chamber for an electron microscope, calculate the grain size required to ensure domains are ferromagnetic at room temperature...

    The reason the proportion of computer users with the "hacker mentality" has decreased is that computers have become simple enough to use that non-hacker types can handle them.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    > [I remember] when this was all bit-fields.

    You were lucky. We had to make our own bits out of brown paper and string.

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Content filtering?

    I forgot, does FCC stands for "Federal Commission for Censorship" or "Franchise for Chinese Communication"?

  14. Ian Michael Gumby

    uh huh...


    So if you have a "free" wireless network supported by advertising...

    How can you force me to see the advertising if I'm using the "free" wi-fi for VOIP calls? I could then toss my mobile contract, and set up a SIP router on one of my land lines. (Which I should be doing anyway.. ;-)

    Or if I use the "free" wi-fi to manage my servers remotely?

    The point is that there will be people like me, or others who will willfully filter out the ads that are supposed to subsidize this "free" network, so I don't see any company doing this staying in business very long.

    If the govt wanted "free" "wi-fi" then they should consider a WI-MAX infrastructure with a tier system, the lowest tier being free. Want more bandwidth, pay for a premium account.

  15. Schultz


    Man, you must be ancient

    ... staring out into the 1800 DPI landscape

  16. Edward Pearson

    @Chris C


    I've never seen such utter bollocks so eloquently put.

    There are far too many (well made, yet wrong) points there for me to pick apart, but i'll have a stab at the first:

    Back in the days of BBS, fewer people used these systems, they weren't designed for numbskull home users, and why should they be? There was nothing on there for Joe Average, it was purly for the technically gifted who wanted to experiment with a newly affordable technology.

    Now, surprisingly enough, over the past 30 years technology has improved, it's easier to cater for the average user, so what would you have people do? Choose to keep the "internet" an elitist arena and refuse entry to those who don't know C?

    Why foster ANY innovation? Nowadays cars are MUCH safer than they were 30 years ago, should we hate these advances because they encourage less skilled drivers to go out on the roads?

    Hogwash Chris, Hogwash.

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