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Government Wants to Create Free Public 'Super Wi-Fi'
Old 02-04-2013, 07:14 PM   #1
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Government Wants to Create Free Public 'Super Wi-Fi'

I hope this comes to pass, disruptive indeed!
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The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly considering the development of free and public "super Wi-Fi" networks across the United States.

The public networks would be much stronger than average by virtue of the spectrum used to build them —their signal would hypothetically travel for long distances and penetrate thick walls and other objects.
http://mashable.com/2013/02/04/public-wifi-networks/
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:21 PM   #2
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Anybody know which frequency range they are thinking of using? Didn't see that spec in the linked article.

Edit to add: Nevermind, 600 Mhz. Washington Post video here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/video/...deo_carousel_3
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:34 PM   #3
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This is the vision that Google is betting on. Ubiquitous, free wifi.

With free wifi everywhere, you don't need a box with lots of memory, storage or processing...its all in the cloud. Software? Don't need it.

You go back to the 80's where your box was just a terminal and everything--everything is delivered to it.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:41 PM   #4
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And Google, of course, is hoping that the marketing value of seeing what people do on "free" wifi exceeds the cost of providing it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:47 AM   #5
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I am sorry but of all the things the government should be doing creating a public wi fi system is damn near at the bottom of my list. Not because it wouldn't be a good thing, but because the government track record in developing technology standards and deploy them is so awful that anyone even seriously letting the government design and build such a thing is crazy.

At the end of last century there we approximately zero public wi fi networks. Nowday practically every shopping mall, Starbucks, restaurant, school, airport, has a wi fi network that you can log into for free or a nominal charge. Most cities have providers which let you get mobile wi fi anywhere. Plus most 4G phones allow you to set up a wi fi hotspot.

Developing industry technology standards is hard enough with tech giants, and small company. If you add the government to the mix you roughly triple the time it takes to something, and you run the very real risk of standard setting process being so slow, that technology makes the standard obsolete.

I know plenty of you are old enough techies to remember the official DOD and Government computer language ADA. For those of you unfamiliar with ADA. The government designed a computer language ADA starting in the 1970s that was going be the next great computer language. All DOD computer program would have to be written in ADA, and possibly all government computer programs also. 25 years later they more or less the pulled the plug. In the meantime billion of dollars and countless man years were wasted. I only had limited involvement in ADA, but still I wasted weeks of my life learning about, and planning for ADA, and pursued software vendors to support it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
anyone even seriously letting the government design and build such a thing is crazy.
I understand the sentiment, but the question on the table is whether the FCC will allocate unused "white space" spectrum between TV transmissions to unlicensed wireless data users, not whether the government will build such networks.

Here's are additional articles with some additional technical details:
'Super Wi-Fi' poised for growth | MNN - Mother Nature Network

New Wi-Fi Network Rides Unused TV Airwaves | Wireless Networking | Internet | TechNewsDaily.com

Rice University brings white-space network to Houston - FierceBroadbandWireless

The last article has additional links to more articles on the IEEE and FCC activities.

There has been an experimental network operating with this technology for the last several years here in Houston. 4000 users.
TFA and Rice Wireless Network

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Old 02-05-2013, 08:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
... anyone even seriously letting the government design and build such a thing is crazy.
I share your skepticism, or should I say realism?

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Originally Posted by Htown Harry View Post
I understand the sentiment, but the question on the table is whether the FCC will allocate unused "white space" spectrum between TV transmissions to unlicensed wireless data users, not whether the government will build such networks.
And they have demonstrated their ability to screw that up as well. Cell networks were licensed in such a way that left us with a few big players, and little in the way of actual competition. They need to find a way to have real competition in this space.

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Old 02-05-2013, 09:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
I am sorry but of all the things the government should be doing creating a public wi fi system is damn near at the bottom of my list. Not because it wouldn't be a good thing, but because the government track record in developing technology standards and deploy them is so awful that anyone even seriously letting the government design and build such a thing is crazy.
I know it's popular to ridicule the US government, and while I'm not fan of big government...arguably the Internet wouldn't have come into existence without the role of government. It's growth into what it is today has come from private/commercial investment, but would it have happened to begin with without the role of the US government?
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...the government-funded ARPANet was very much the precursor of the Internet as we know it today. Nor was ARPA's support "modest," as Crovitz contends. It was full-throated and total. Bob Taylor was the single most important figure in the history of the Internet, and he holds that stature because of his government role.

Cerf and Kahn did develop TCP/IP--on a government contract!

Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web--and he did so at CERN, a European government consortium.

Cerf, by the way, wrote in 2009 that the ARPANet, on which he worked, "led, ultimately, to the Internet."

So the bottom line is that the Internet as we know it was indeed born as a government project. In fact, without ARPA and Bob Taylor, it could not have come into existence. Private enterprise had no interest in something so visionary and complex, with questionable commercial opportunities. Indeed, the private corporation that then owned monopoly control over America's communications network, AT&T, fought tooth and nail against the ARPANet. Luckily for us, a far-sighted government agency prevailed.

It's true that the Internet took off after it was privatized in 1995. But to be privatized, first you have to be government-owned. It's another testament to people often demeaned as "government bureaucrats" that they saw that the moment had come to set their child free.
So, who really did invent the Internet? - Los Angeles Times

I also read through the wiki internet page and several others. We can debate the extent, but not whether the US government played an early substantial or key role that led to the internet as we know it today.

I'd we willing to give the US govt a chance to develop a ubiquitious super wi-fi system if "AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Qualcomm" are the alternative.

When the US concedes on innovation, we're done. We can't win a race to the bottom against the BRICs or other emerging countries...
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
...arguably the Internet wouldn't have come into existence with the role of government. It's growth into what it is today has come from private/commercial investment, but would it have happened to begin with without the role of the US government?
There's a big difference between developing the original technology (which for thousands of years has been spurred by military needs/spending), and implementing that technology at the user level.

And we can't really say if/when/how the Internet may have come into existence otherwise. Clearly, many advances have come from private industry, we can't assume that something equivalent, maybe even better, might not have been developed privately.

Look at how telecom advanced, once the monopoly lock-hold of Ma Bell was reduced. Well, unless you consider a lighted dial on your Princess phone 'advanced technology'.

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Old 02-05-2013, 09:31 AM   #10
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Wasn't there also some plan for some kind of ultra-wide-band, low power signal that was spread so wide that it could co-exist with existing uses? It was so low power, it didn't interfere, but still detectable because it was so wide-spread.

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Old 02-05-2013, 09:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
I am sorry but of all the things the government should be doing creating a public wi fi system is damn near at the bottom of my list. Not because it wouldn't be a good thing, but because the government track record in developing technology standards and deploy them is so awful that anyone even seriously letting the government design and build such a thing is crazy.

At the end of last century there we approximately zero public wi fi networks. Nowday practically every shopping mall, Starbucks, restaurant, school, airport, has a wi fi network that you can log into for free or a nominal charge. Most cities have providers which let you get mobile wi fi anywhere. Plus most 4G phones allow you to set up a wi fi hotspot.

Developing industry technology standards is hard enough with tech giants, and small company. If you add the government to the mix you roughly triple the time it takes to something, and you run the very real risk of standard setting process being so slow, that technology makes the standard obsolete.

I know plenty of you are old enough techies to remember the official DOD and Government computer language ADA. For those of you unfamiliar with ADA. The government designed a computer language ADA starting in the 1970s that was going be the next great computer language. All DOD computer program would have to be written in ADA, and possibly all government computer programs also. 25 years later they more or less the pulled the plug. In the meantime billion of dollars and countless man years were wasted. I only had limited involvement in ADA, but still I wasted weeks of my life learning about, and planning for ADA, and pursued software vendors to support it.
+1
And, I would be concerned about the security of a Government system. I also went through the ADA craziness.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:57 AM   #12
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I just hope the government doesn't stick its nose into the GPS system. I like the system that Garmin has set up and don't want to see anyone mess with it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:06 AM   #13
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I just hope the government doesn't stick its nose into the GPS system. I like the system that Garmin has set up and don't want to see anyone mess with it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:11 AM   #14
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I would like to see data piggyback on the HDTV signals and my hard-drive filled daily with gigs of mostly useless content carefully indexed and sorted that I can go through in my leisure in a read-only manner.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:15 AM   #15
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I'm all for it, but...here's the fly in the ointment: Once there is ubiquitous wifi you'll be able to make free phone/cell calls via the likes of Google, Skype, etc etc...

Anyone really think that ATT, Verizon, TMobile and crew will allow a billion dollar industry to go away?
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #16
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I just hope the government doesn't stick its nose into the GPS system. I like the system that Garmin has set up and don't want to see anyone mess with it.
Case in point - do you buy your GPS device from the government GPS store? And if they were the only provider, or they licensed it to 2 or 3 suppliers, do you think you could get the features you really want at a competitive price?

GPS was developed for the military, we are just riding along. It doesn't cost the govt anything to allow us in on the (degraded version) signal that is already broadcast for their own use.

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Old 02-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #17
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I'm all for it, but...here's the fly in the ointment: Once there is ubiquitous wifi you'll be able to make free phone/cell calls via the likes of Google, Skype, etc etc...

Anyone really think that ATT, Verizon, TMobile and crew will allow a billion dollar industry to go away?
It's them against Google & Microsoft so far, hard to call...
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #18
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Look at how telecom advanced, once the monopoly lock-hold of Ma Bell was reduced. Well, unless you consider a lighted dial on your Princess phone 'advanced technology'.
But now we're back to a lock-hold with the duopoly of Verizon & AT&T. Broadband prices are higher and speeds are lower in the US than in most of the world.

And don't forget that the then-Baby Bells were GIVEN wireless spectrum for their territories. Many people in the US do not know that.

This proposal by the FCC would likely cause an explosion of innovation in the US, just as the creation of the internet did.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:33 AM   #19
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Which system the gummint can monitor in extreme detail, turn on a nd off at will and since they own the system, can keep constant track of where one's communicator device is at all times. No need for stinking courts to authorize tracking, since it is done automatically.

Just what the doctor oredered.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:42 AM   #20
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But now we're back to a lock-hold with the duopoly of Verizon & AT&T. Broadband prices are higher and speeds are lower in the US than in most of the world.

And don't forget that the then-Baby Bells were GIVEN wireless spectrum for their territories. Many people in the US do not know that.
Correct. They took one step forward and two steps back (or maybe two forward one back?). I want to see then keep moving forward, and keep the systems as open and competitive as is feasible.

Quote:
This proposal by the FCC would likely cause an explosion of innovation in the US, just as the creation of the internet did.
Devil is in the details. We will need to see.

I happen to be reading a book on the history of technology, and the more things change, the more things stay the same. Some of our founding fathers were engaged in some shenanigans that awarded government contracts not to the gun manufacturers with the best technology, and most cost-effective, most powerful products, but to the manufacturers who had the most powerful (surprise!) political connections. I think the skepticism is well founded.

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