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Post Clarifies 'Super Wi-Fi' Story After Nationwide Freak Out
Not Really National, Not Really Free, Nowhere Close to Happening
by Karl Bode 03:55PM Wednesday Feb 06 2013
Monday morning the Washington Post created some confusion by insisting that the FCC was cooking up a new "Super Wi-Fi" initiative that would bring free Wi-Fi and delicious sandwiches to everyone, everywhere. As I mentioned at the time (with NPR calling me a "killjoy" for it) the reality is less glamorous: the initiative known as white space broadband has been trying to get off the ground for the better part of a decade. It won't be free, likely won't be nationwide, and it may never exist at all if companies like AT&T get their wish.

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The Post's article created somewhat of a media confusion shit storm (for lack of a more elegant term). Many people wondered why they'd never heard of such a exciting initiative. Others, like Post commenters, lamented an evil communist FCC takeover of the Internet that wasn't (or something).

With the smoke now clearing, the Post is back with a follow up piece that tries to reframe the original story's claims a little bit. Post reporter Cecilia Kang notes that the auction of cable industry airwaves that could make room for broader white space use won't even happen until 2014, and walks back the scope of the project a bit with this line:
Some analysts said the plan is “aspirational.” Not only will there be a lot of political discussion, but it could take time for companies and consumers to figure out how best to use a new set of public airwaves.
The Post still kind of floats over and around the fact that white space broadband has been an ugly decade in the making, or that companies like AT&T and Cisco have spent most of that time trying to crush the technology for anti-competitive reasons. As it stands, unlicensed spectrum white space broadband technology is seeing some promising niche deployment (see Microsoft's efforts in Africa or this small park in Wilmington), but we're a few thousand miles and a hell of a lot of lobbyists away from seeing the technology go mainstream.

topics flat nest 

Detroit, MI

Of course they will get their way

Why? AT&T has the cash to make that happen. Right and wrong has no meaning when it comes to that.

Ah good ol' America!
"I like to refer to myself as an Adult Film Efficienato." - Stuart Bondek

Bill Neilson
Arlington, VA

Re: Of course they will get their way

said by Cthen:

Why? AT&T has the cash to make that happen. Right and wrong has no meaning when it comes to that.

Ah good ol' America!

Remember now, don't go trying to make AT&T pay what most other businesses have to pay or anything
Purcellville, VA
said by Cthen:

Why? AT&T has the cash to make that happen. Right and wrong has no meaning when it comes to that.

Ah good ol' America!

And if money doesn't buy them what they want, they can always have the government declare those who support whitespace WiFi to be enemy combatants. That will allow Obama to use the drones to do all the dirty work for them. LOL


Weirton, WV
shouldn't at&t be on a short leash especially since they were broke up in the 80s because of ant-trust actions.
If I were at&t's ceo I'd remind myself and my staff that we were broke up once and it CAN happen again.

fifty nine

Sussex, NJ

White space is a sham

Of course it won't be free, duh! This has just been hidden from people to get them to buy into it.

It also won't be nationwide because the channels are already in use.

North Las Vegas, NV

Re: White space is a sham

So who is going to pay for the equipment and the backhaul bandwidth? Someone is going to have to pay for it, either by usage fees or taxes. And I don't want to see my tax money go toward something that is available already to the public.

The only way it could become nationwide is by clearing a channel nationwide. Next week - Fox 5 will be Fox 6!

It could be free... with advertising (which was the original "promotion" as I recall)... after you pay for the device(s) ...sounds like something Google could love!

No one ever said you had to use the same "channel" everywhere.

And, not a "sham" (but it is a "shame").
"Face piles of trials with smiles; it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave."

Madison, AL

3 recommendations

I'm more interested in the delicious sandwiches.



Re: I'm more interested in the delicious sandwiches.

Mmmm... Wall Street Deli turkey-ham-n-swiss sub with everything, pickle on the side... mmm.

That others may surf

No need to wait.

Go ahead and wait for "free" government "super wi-fi" while I use my CableWiFi... what's ATT going to do about that?
Purcellville, VA

Re: No need to wait.

Have to wonder if free government WiFi will in any way be related to the Obamaphone program:

» ··· OwJvTOio


Albuquerque, NM

Been there done that!!

As it goes for free Internet, We already had a system here in Rio Rancho up and running in New Mexico.
Politics got in the way. The City government had hired a unknown out of state start up company to do the so called City wide system. The City saw us as a major problem in the way of completing there idea of ubiquitous wireless Internet. The City saw us in the path causing 5000 subs to lose their connection when thy finally after 11 times in court to kill a major tower we had.
If this were to ever happen again"Ubiquitous free Internet" government attitudes will have to change.
By the way our competitor closed it's doors last December after a total and costly failure.

Brooklyn, NY
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

citizen's band wifi

Just let consumers buy & use high powered wifi equipment and do their own coverage..

Why not?

At&T and Verizon haven't done enough to pulverize the competition into the ground yet.. and squeezed every last penny out of the consumer... let me break out the violins..