Free Wi-Fi in Los Altos? FCC Proposal Could Pit Google Against Cell Carriers

The federal government wants to bring fast, powerful—and free—Internet connections to communities across the nation.


The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a plan that would create super Wi-Fi networks all around the country—and threaten the viability of big-name cell-phone carriers and Internet providers.

But not all tech companies are against the FCC's plan. Microsoft and Mountain View-based Google, which provides Wi-Fi to that city, are spending top dollars to lobby in support of the plan, according to a report in The Washington Post, because they believe free Wi-Fi would help drive further innovation and provide a market for more gadgets.

Cellular carriers are not as supportive. The Post reports that the FCC wants to buy airwaves that are more powerful than a typical household Wi-Fi connection, making it possible that people could opt out of traditional cell phone coverage and home Internet service.

While free Wi-Fi is available at the Los Altos and Woodland libraries, and at many Los Altos businesses that encourage its patrons to stick around, it's not the same as being able to sit on a park bench with Wi-Fi freely available.

Even if it's approved by the FCC, the Post says the new network would still take several years to implement. And it's unclear how reliable the connection would be in urban areas, where many people might be using the free Wi-Fi system at the same time.

Do you think government-provided Wi-Fi would be good for Los Altos? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments section below.

Jim Fenton February 19, 2013 at 05:25 PM
A lot of questions have been raised about this Washington Post article, for example in WNYC's On The Media podcast: http://www.onthemedia.org/2013/feb/15/anatomy-mistake/ It's worth also reading the follow-up article, "Five Things You Should Know About Public Wi-FI" http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/five-things-to-know-about-public-wifi/2013/02/05/de284af0-6fd8-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html
Anthony K. Girdley February 19, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Nothing the government provides is "free". As taxpayers, we all pay for that "free lunch". So I vote, NO!!
charder February 20, 2013 at 08:40 AM
U will be paying for something else u dont care about they are throwing money away like water god for bid they actually provide something useful for a change and the crap that it will hurt the cable company's is pretty crap also it will just push them to improve there crappy service and customer service these people no they have u they have it all sectioned of so they don't step on each others toes and there are still a lot of places u can't get internet this will force them to open faster cheaper internet to no areas just because something is free doesn't mean that paying for that same thing wouldn't be better more and more files are getting bigger and bigger there will always be a need for faster speeds and this would push these company's to do more to get better internet to more people. This would be good for schools and say your are lost and there is no cell service but if this internet will go as far as they say it could save your life. But mostly those company's will have to get better. And i think most people will still want a wired connection In there homes or better down load speeds more protection from all the hackers its all about what u offer that will make people pay for something they may just have to work at it


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