Rumor: Government wants to create free public 'super WiFi'

Powerful wireless networks could eliminate monthly cellular and Internet plans

CONFIRMED: The FCC chairman designed a plan that is still pending approval

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal has driven a wedge between the $178 billion wireless industry and the world's largest technology companies, as first reported by The Washington Post. Telecom giants such as Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T fear that people would skip out on their existing WiFi and cell-phone plans, and a free-for-all WiFi network would clog cell and TV networks, according to a United Press International report..

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants laud a national wireless network that would support innovation and development of new gadgets, which would benefit all Americans. The new networks would be so powerful they could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and trees and would be readily available in nearly every metropolitan area and many rural areas. (Disclaimer: Microsoft publishes MSN News.)

The five-member FCC panel has yet to vote on the proposal, Mashable reported. If approved, the networks would still take several years to set up.

"Freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free-market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future and benefits consumers," said FCC chairman Julius Genachow­ski in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.

(Click here for other accounts of the story.)

Did this cause power outage?

One of the major highlights of Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, of course, was the 34-minute power outage delay. Could the massive wireless network set up at the Superdome in New Orleans be the culprit?

According to CNET News, Ars Technica and other outlets, Verizon Wireless installed a network designed to handle 30,000 simultaneous connections inside and outside the stadium during the big game.

 

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