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Free wireless proposed to cover the U.S.
Monday 23 June 2008 12:41:43 by John Hunt

The Federal Communications Commission in the United States (equivalent of Ofcom here) on Friday announced its proposal for free wireless services to cover the U.S. using what it calls 'Advanced Wireless Services.' The term is a general one used to describe a variety of wireless technologies and could include the deployment of 3G mobile broadband for example.

The proposal seeks to auction off 25MHz of spectrum in the 2.1GHz range which would receive a nationwide license with the operator required to deploy a two-way broadband services with a downstream data rate of at least 768Kbps which is available for free use. The operator would also be able to use the spectrum to provide pay-for services. Certain stipulations do apply such that the operator must provide service to at least 50% of the U.S population within 4 years, and have 95% coverage by the end of the 10 year license term.

The idea of ubiquitous free broadband is nice, even if the speed offered is quite low. Whilst more than enough for today's simple web browsing, in 5 years time 768Kbps may seem totally inadequate, however the service would hopefully adapt as technology improves to offer more bandwidth in the same parameters. Currently, the proposal is at the comment stage, but it will be interesting to follow to see whether network operators are willing to pick it up, and see if maybe something similar could be adopted for the UK. More details in the FCC release (PDF).

Comments

Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"but it will be interesting to follow to see whether network operators are willing to pick it up, and see if maybe something similar could be adopted for the UK."

You must be joking i can see it now BT, Virgin, Carphone warehouse, offering something free, yep thats gonna happen.... Oh hang on carphone warehouse didnt they promise free broadband before..... Errrr ermmmm oh damn and darn thats that screwed :D
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
Ofcon can't even persuade today's UK fixed wireless access licence holders to actually deliver the service they were awarded the licences for. Nice to see the FCC have a little bit more clue about that aspect of regulating.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
I was reading last week of municipal wifi schemes in the US closing down, so I'm struggling to see how someone is going to buy a licence, invest in a service and pay their bills with this one.

Google or Phorm could do it and make it pay I suppose via advertising.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Funding for schemes such as this are handled vastly differently out in the states, to get a licence is much easier, and when it comes to setup costs companys seem more than happy to all chip in and do their bit (hence why cable is so big out there). Saying the UK will ever have a scheme like this with the regular old duffers in charge of everything is laughable to say the least.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
"when it comes to setup costs companys seem more than happy to all chip in and do their bit " - what for free ? get real.

Cable is big out there because it's their primary method of delivering 57 channels with nothing on TV. Local monopolies too, with pricing to match.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote""when it comes to setup costs companys seem more than happy to all chip in and do their bit " - what for free ? get real."
What part of 'handled vastly differently out in the states' didnt make sense? Their TV networks as well as the companies that supply cable services all fund it, there have also been government schemes. (I dont see our government, the BBC or the likes of BT investing in other delivery methods).
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago

quote"Cable is big out there because it's their primary method of delivering 57 channels with nothing on TV. Local monopolies too, with pricing to match."
No cable is big out there because thats an easier way for broadcasters to get their content to a whole country thats over 30 times larger in size than the uk and probably cheaper than a tri-zillion TV masts. Oh and hardly a monopoly different companys cover different areas, yet every company originally could bid for areas... not like BT or Virgin that just have basically a free ride here.
Posted by s7uar7 over 8 years ago
"cable is big out there because thats an easier way for broadcasters to get their content to a whole country thats over 30 times larger in size than the uk and probably cheaper than a tri-zillion TV masts"

I'd be very surprised if the capital cost of laying cable is cheaper than setting up a network of masts.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Cable can be multi channel unlike analogue terrestial.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"I'd be very surprised if the capital cost of laying cable is cheaper than setting up a network of masts."

Doesnt need to be the space for digital services a cable company will offer to broadcasters for less (hence why they have things like public access stations etc) so longer term its much cheaper... Oh and quality is probably better over a cable connection than TV mast based.
Posted by mishminx over 8 years ago
Is the downstream speed subject to contention? As up to 25% network capacity is to be used to provide it. More so it is to be filtered at a network level. Both contention and filtering could be used to encourage people to subscribe to a fuller service.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Is the downstream speed subject to contention?"

Any ADSL type of service is subject to some form of contention... considering this would be a free service that really is stretching to find a complaint.
Posted by rugbeater over 8 years ago
mishminx: It would be better to contact those involved.. the email is at the bottom of the FCC PDF..

just a few problems though....
- It is just 'a proposal' - I dont see anything concrete.. how much confidence to you have in the FCC??? I'd bet they would silently withdraw it, due to lack of interest by companies that are already feeling the pinch...

I am amazed at those that seem to forget this is **United States** only!! :D and yes, I know BT, VM, GW etc are moving in...

Ah.. land of the free... It means something different over there... have you not seen the usual stuff??
Posted by rugbeater over 8 years ago
FREE internet.. FREE login... FREE site membership.... Free modem....

and then you get past all this stuff, to find a page asking for your credit card number.... JUST for 'age verification'... do you beleive them?? they have their hands on your cash, and you think they will not take any????
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"and then you get past all this stuff, to find a page asking for your credit card number.... JUST for 'age verification'... do you beleive them??"

Errrr 1 as the service is just a idea at the moment that doesnt happen and 2 Even if it did and it is just for age verification there are ways to trick that even a 12 year old knows (Hint first few digits on particular banks cards ;) ).
I sincerely doubt a system like that would be put in place if the concept is to deliver the service to all freely
Posted by fox-uk over 8 years ago
It's really marvelous in the USA
In the US we have an aunt who celebrates when she can get downloads of over 10kb. AND a daughter who's phone goes on to 'roaming' if she travels more than 20 miles from home.

This is reality USA.

You get good service if it is profitable for them to give it to you, but there's nothing even planned for the 5% who aren't in the right place at the right time.

Scotland is spending millions to get broadband to the last 1% who cannot get it.

Who is really getting the best deal?

Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Dunno where you went in the USA but some of the cable services and what you get for your monthly price, is UPTO half what it costs you here on virgin cable to have TV, broadband and phone. Id call that a good deal myself. No service is perfect obviously, the old saying of you get what you pay for atleast still applys out there (cheap service = restrictions, higher priced options = less restrictions), here in the UK you can still pay a fortune and get rubbish.
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