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FCC Cancels Free Internet Vote 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the pipe-dream-or-a-tube-dream? dept.
Earlier this year we discussed a proposal from the FCC which would have required winning bidders for a portion of the wireless spectrum to use some of that bandwidth for free internet access. A vote for the plan was scheduled for next Thursday, but now the FCC has canceled those plans, facing "opposition from several top officials, wireless providers, and even civil rights groups." The internet access would have had some level of filtering, to which privacy groups took exception, and the Bush administration objected to forcing requirements on the winners of the spectrum auction. Others simply asked the FCC not to take on such a major project as the transition between analog and digital television transmissions looms.
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FCC Cancels Free Internet Vote

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:14PM (#26111855)
    that the FCC is corrupt. Colin Powell's son was the head of it for a while, only because of his Dad's connections.
  • by MPAB (1074440) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:24PM (#26111905)

    Free nationwide internet access would be just like what happens with free nationwide health service.
    At first it works fine and takes only a tiny bit of our taxes, then it grows in size (and squares in budget) as more and more people leave their paid service for the free one: after all, they're paying for it as well.
    Then comes the time when almost the whole service is in the hands of the state. It takes up a huge budget and a proportionate bite of our taxes. It works so that nobody is left unconnected, but not much more. The state mandates what can it be used for and what not. It sets up any filter it likes (of course, filters will only grow). Privacy is nixed.
    But, hey, almost everybody is hooked up to STATENET because nobody can compete with it. Only those that can afford paying double get a quality (and expensive) internet service.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by theaveng (1243528)

      I agree 100% with your reasoning. But it's still flawed. Why? Because free internet occupying former channels 51 to 69 were to be paid by the *corporations* not the government. Just like free radio and free tv today.

      Although given that internet is dirt cheap ($15 for DSL, and $7 for Dialup), I do question whether it's really necessary to make free service. Who cannot afford to pay either $15 or $7 for internet access?

      • by gb506 (738638) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:54PM (#26112087) Homepage

        "Because free internet occupying former channels 51 to 69 were to be paid by the *corporations* not the government. Just like free radio and free tv today."

        But "free" radio and tv are not free, they are supported by ad revenue. There is little if any opportunity for the "free" internet provider to recoup the costs of providing the "free" internet service, it would essentially be a tax imposed on the provider by the government. Besides, 768k service will soon be of negligible value beyond simple text, IM or email, and the people the government thinks they're going to serve by offering this "service" will again be relegated to inferior connection speeds.

        • by theaveng (1243528) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:11PM (#26112189)

          >>>"free" radio and tv are not free, they are supported by ad revenue

          i.e. Paid by corporations.

          >>>There is little if any opportunity for the "free" internet provider to recoup the costs

          Sure there is! You've never used NetZero or Juno I assume? They provide free internet through advertising along the top 20% of your screen. There's also the example of TV websites which provide free access to 24, CSI, Heroes, et cetera but pay for that cost through 30 second ads every ten minutes. The "free" internet would be paid in a similar fashion.

          • So in your scenario it would be free as in free advertising, and free unsolicited email. Sometimes there's too much freedom.

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              I never said anything about Email. I discussed a banner ad that sits at the top of your screen while you're browsing. I've used Netzero and that's not onerous at all. If those ads bother you, don't take the free service. It's simple. (Did I really need to explain that? It seems so obvious.)

          • by Moridin42 (219670) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @05:05PM (#26112961)

            i.e. Paid by corporations.

            While I've read a number of your posts, and I think they're generally decent (even if I don't always agree) I must point something out with this one.

            Compelling a provider to provide "free" service is a tax. Its just a well hidden one. Taxes on corporations annoy me for the same reason politicians love them. They can levy them without fear of backlash from their constituencies. Hell, they get to profit off them from political lobbies and the like. The constituencies still pay them. They just don't get up in arms when the tax is hidden behind the price tag of the stuff they buy.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by syntek (1265716)
          I have always said I would pay double or triple my current cable bill if I could watch without commercials or dvr/tivo. Many people on the other hand feel the opposite. I myself are willing to pay higher service cost for better quality service, but by allowing the people who aren't in my group to switch over to the free internet and free up current networks, I'm all for it.
      • by Swizec (978239) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:09PM (#26112187) Homepage
        I pay my government $15 for 20/20 (reliable) FTTH. I think you're getting ripped off by those large corporations.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Because DSL doesn't cost $15 and dial up costs at least $8. The assumption you're making is invalid, around here it's impossible to get DSL for less than $30 and more like $40.

        The relatively basic plan that I'm connecting with was I think something like $45 or so a month.

    • by mweather (1089505) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:46PM (#26112029)

      Free nationwide internet access would be just like what happens with free nationwide health service.

      Coverage for people who don't currently have any?

      • by MPAB (1074440)

        Did ADHD keep you from reading what happens next, once the "free" system gets a critical mass and everyone that currently has internet goes the "free" way?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by docgiggles (1425995)
      There is a good reason why the broadband companies are opposed this. It will bankrupt them. Once everybody had free internet, the only people wh will want it to be faster are the torrenters, and so the ISPs will have to spend more and more money trying to compete with each other. I currently have high speed, and this would not help me in the slightest. If this was introduced, it would have to be censored, That makes sense, so the U.S. would have to try, and would fail to secure the internet. All in all, it
      • by Ardeaem (625311) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:01PM (#26112143)

        There is a good reason why the broadband companies are opposed this. It will bankrupt them. Once everybody had free internet, the only people wh will want it to be faster are the torrenters...

        ...and anyone who wants to stream decent quality video, and anyone who wants unfiltered access, and anyone who wants to use decent quality VOIP applications, and anyone who wants to game with decent latencies, and anyone who wants good USENET access (yeah, all three of them)...

        The point is that there are many reasons why you would want to pay for extra bandwidth. The point of the service is to offer basic service. There's no reason for it to grow beyond that. If you think it necessarily MUST grow beyond that, I have to ask why aren't food stamp programs paying for EVERYONE'S food now?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by syntek (1265716)

        There is a good reason why the broadband companies are opposed this. It will bankrupt them. Once everybody had free internet, the only people wh will want it to be faster are the torrenters,

        ... Gamers and people would stream media would be paying to. And that's just residential customers. You are forgetting all the businesses who are not ISP but require broadband internet connection. Your commercial lines aren't always being run by Comcast or Timewarner or anything, but they certainly aren't going to use the free service and they also use the most bandwidth. So no, not everyone is going to hop onto the free network. I certainly would not use it, but I'm all for it for people who would be will

    • by TX_Sparky (1431459) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:02PM (#26112145)
      Right. And our current health care system, where 50% of all personal bankruptcies are directly traceable to health care costs, half of the kids in the country have no health insurance, and more retired people all the time face the unenviable choice of buying either food or their meds, works really great. No system designed and implemented by humans is perfect. But have you ever seen the health care systems in the EU up close? Have you ever had occasional to receive health care over there? I have, and those systems make ours look exactly like what it is, a soul-less meat grinder designed to make health "care" corporations a huge amount of profit on the backs of people who pay more for health care than any other industrialized country *on the planet*, but whose *quality* of care is ranked #37 by the WHO. But no matter. The unregulated so-called "free market" will take care of everything, right? Just look at what great shape our economy is in...
      • by MPAB (1074440) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:26PM (#26112269)

        As a matter of fact, I'm a doctor in Spain. And the system is just like what I've described in the GP.
        Most of the population, as well as foreigners, use the system because it's "free for all". The word free means nothing when I come to think of the kind of insurance plans I could pay with the money they eat from my payroll each month.
        It's true you won't be left for dead if you cannot pay, but for those that aren't in risk of death the waiting lists become longer and longer as everyone wants to enjoy his share of healthcare and the system collapses.
        For many illnesses people cannot afford private practice (because it's scarce enough and has good paying customers) but cannot wait forever either. I see that drama every day. And what does the state do? Easy: throw it on our backs.
        And to top it off, the now leftist government is pushing a really agressive agenda on euthanasia-no-questions-asked that most people fear will not be aimed at the wishes of the patients but the budget of the system. The draconian tobacco laws in Europe (I don't smoke, BTW) were put in place only to spare on social healthcare costs. Not to talk about countries like Cuba (been there, also) where every citizen can be a guinea pig.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Or things could move over to something more similar to the German system. Where people can opt into the private system if they can pay otherwise get their services from the public plan.

          Or the way that the UK does it with health trusts. There are many different ways of providing universal care, one doesn't necessarily need to use one like the Spanish system.

          But, technically we do have a universal system, it's just that now we've got over flowing ERs and that's a much more significant loss than a reasonable u

        • The draconian tobacco laws in Europe (I don't smoke, BTW) were put in place only to spare on social healthcare costs.

          And for the USA I've warned others that the war on drugs will NEVER end if universal healthcare were enacted, and there may well be laws on food and things we consume in general. That our right to take risks will be partially negated "for the greater good". Of course, they laugh. I do hope we get universal healthcare so I can laugh at the resulting mess.

      • The unregulated so-called "free market" will take care of everything, right?

        A working free market requires a number of assumptions, such as that people know what they're buying [wikipedia.org], that nobody has too much market power [wikipedia.org], and that efficient matching of buyers and sellers is actually the desired outcome [lwn.net]. This last item especially doesn't hold for (at least basic) health care, where being universal is probably more important than being economically efficient.

        Just look at what great shape our economy is in...

        That's partly a case of people (well, banks) not understanding what they were buying, and I think partly a case of the nation approa

    • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:07PM (#26112173)

      To be more accurate, I reworded your anti-UHC Troll:

      Free nationwide internet access would be just like what happens with the current insurance industry health service.
      At first it works fine and takes only a tiny bit of our pay cheques, then it grows in size (and squares in budget) as more and more people can't afford their current paid service: after all, they're paying for it as well.
      Then comes the time when almost the whole service is in the hands of the financial conglomerates. It takes up a huge budget and a proportionate bite of our pay cheques. It works so that many people are left unconnected, but not much more. The insurance conglomerates mandate what can it be used for and what not. It sets up any filter it likes (of course, filters will only grow). Privacy is nixed.
      But, hey, almost everybody is hooked up to an HMO because nobody can afford anything else. Only those that can afford paying double get a quality (and expensive) health insurance plan.

      There; fixed that anti-UHC Troll for you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MPAB (1074440)

        Yes. That happens when mandatory car/house/health insurance is imposed upon the citizens by the government. The insurance industry has a monopoly enforced by the government. Nothing new or free here.
        Have a cold? Forget Excedrin, go to a doctor because it goes on the insurer (and back to you).
        Also in the US health prices skyrocket because doctors ask for lots of things in order to cover their backs against (most times absurd) litigation. And, yes, 30% or more of their (huge) earnings go to litigation insuran

      • I love how people knock current government health solutions by pointing out all the problems with it and then say the only answer is an even bigger government health solution.

        And I love how any criticism of government market interventionism is dismissed as a troll rather than responded to logically.

      • Thanks for the good post. Are the radical-anti-government trolls on the rise again? I was replying to one just yesterday -- an AC no less. I think they weren't so frequent just half a year ago.
    • For some services, it makes sense to have a base infrastructure that is owned and operated by the government, which private companies share.

      Imagine if several power companies competed by each hanging their own wires,
      or if phone companies also each had separate wires.
      Such a setup would direct competition of service and would be ugly.

      The same is true for wireless cell networks. It is far from ideal to have every cell company operating there own independent cell towers. This limits direct competition of servic

    • Because that's what examples have shown happens to free nationwide health services, right? Oh, couldn't be that you're merely engaging in some good old right-wing scaremongering? (At least you're not an AC like I responded to yesterday.)

      I would suggest that you, especially as an American, don't loudly proclaim opinions on things of which you have no direct experience and probably little more historical research than what you read in your daily newspaper.

      The British NHS is probably the example closest to
    • I don't see how it'd be any worse than the current corporate monopolies. The inefficiency would be equivalent to what we'd lose to profit anyway.

      What we really need is /competition/. But until we transition away from a government controlled by the corporations that's sadly quite unlikely.

    • by Omestes (471991)

      Free nationwide internet access would be just like what happens with free nationwide health service.

      Good troll, but... We can definitely compare it to free nationwide health service, since NEITHER EXIST. But being that neither exist, we must then put your comparison firmly into the land of fantasy.

      I like the government competing with business. I don't see a problem with it. I would like the government providing some minimum of heath care to those who need it (most people not pulling in 6 figures) at som

    • excuse me, but the time of church of holistic economy ended around 1.5 months ago. i think you missed what happened by then, and what is happening now, and what really unregulated 'free' market in which everything is miraculously run by 'private' enterprise runs 'more efficient' ... just 6 of those 'private enterprises' have dragged ENTIRE WORLD into a mega crisis, because there were idiots who subscribed heavily to the church of holistic economy, which is little different than believing that there is an al
      • by MPAB (1074440)

        FYI: I'm not from the US. I'm a doctor in Spain, and I know exactly what I'm talking about.
        I know exactly what kind of things we're told to HIDE AWAY from the public. I know what policies are to be enforced silently.
        Right now the spanish government is backing a doctor that euthanasized hundreds at a public hospital without asking them or their families.
        Do you really think states are that transparent? Do you really think the voter's can't be driven around like cattle? Here a single terrorist attack turned an

        • by MPAB (1074440)

          Errata: It's voters, not voter's.

        • by unity100 (970058)
          [quote]FYI: I'm not from the US. I'm a doctor in Spain, and I know exactly what I'm talking about.[/quote] the church of holistic economy is based in u.s. your belief has little difference from a republican from texas. [quote] I know exactly what kind of things we're told to HIDE AWAY from the public. I know what policies are to be enforced silently. Right now the spanish government is backing a doctor that euthanasized hundreds at a public hospital without asking them or their families. [/quote] that is
    • That's ridiculous; many people will want faster, unfiltered internet and will turn to the private providers.

      This was a great plan that would liberate the lower classes and rural families from a lack of broadband internet. Elitists like you don't care about them, you just hate the idea of the government doing ANYTHING that will help people.

      But hey, starting wars is fine because that doesn't help anyone.

    • Free nationwide internet access would be just like what happens with free nationwide health service.

      Or free nationwide roads. Or free nationwide television!

      Seriously. can you point to a modern country (i.e., one that isn't otherwise a terrible place to live) where socalized health care has ruined health care?

      As to your only other cognizant claims:

      The state mandates what can it be used for and what not. It sets up any filter it likes (of course, filters will only grow). Privacy is nixed.

      1: The state has as much power NOW to regulate the internet as it ever would. And any special regulations they wanted to impose -- such as a time-of-day or max-bandwidth or whitelist-only or no-blacklist restriction -- would keep a market for private internet.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      There are countless public institutions which undermine your argument. Does this happen with municipal water and power? Fire and police services?

      Anti-government Americans must come to understand one fundamental fact about America... We The People are the government. When the private sector cannot provide adequate service, it falls upon us, ourselves, to step up and do what they will not or can not.

      Of course, it's generally better when we don't have to, when we can pay someone else to take care of things. Bu

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is when lots of people are telling you that you can't or that you shouldn't, you decide to say "fuck y'all" and do what you and your people think is best.
    • by pin0chet (963774)
      Except, of course, when you and your people are appealing to irrational fears for personal political gain and not actually representing the very consumers you're supposed to look out for. Which clearly was the case with the censored free wireless plan.
  • by theaveng (1243528) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:27PM (#26111935)

    >>>Others simply asked the FCC not to take on such a major project as the transition between analog and digital television transmissions looms.

    The DTV transition is almost complete. It will be a done deal on February 18 with a few minor issues to work-out during March, and then the FCC will be free to regulate the free internet service in channels 52-69 (the sold off spectrum).

    >>>The internet access would have had some level of filtering, to which privacy groups took exception

    So what? Free broadcast television has filtering as well, to bring it down to "PG" level, so I don't see what the issue is here. If you want raunchy stuff, you upgrade to pay TV or pay internet that is not censored.

    >>>Bush administration objected to forcing requirements on the winners of the spectrum auction

    I don't know why. We already force requirements onto other lessees of the PUBLIC spectrum, such as forcing tv stations to air educational programs, or cellphone operators to provide 911 tracing. The Corporations don't own the airwaves; they are merely leasing them from the People of the United States. If the collective "landlords" want to impose certain requirements for use of their property, so be it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917)

      > If the collective "landlords" want to impose certain requirements for use of their property, so be it.

      I agree, though it's not clear that we landlords actually do want filtering. It is the cause of a vocal minority, one which happens to have the ear of the current President (who has considerable authority over the FCC). But we're getting a new President soon who may be less censorious.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 77Punker (673758)

      It seems to be that a major difference between TV and internet is that there's no good way to tell what "raunchy" means. At least with TV the set of content is so small that censorship can work somehow.

      Also, using public airwaves to broadcast infomercials or Jerry Springer is as bad to me as clicking a goatse link. Such a waste!

      On a semi-related note, I'll use this space to mention that I enjoy using my antenna more than extended cable because I get 3 channels of PBS instead of one. Those 3 channels of free

    • by pin0chet (963774)

      If consumers desire a filtered wireless network, then shouldn't it emerge even without the federal government forcing it upon us?

      Even without rigid spectrum rules, there is nothing stopping a company from buying up spectrum rights and using it for family-friendly wireless broadband. But what if users with alternative preferences--say, parents who are capable of protecting their kids online without centralized censorship and nipple slip fines--outnumber those who want government nanny-state rules? The FCC's

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by theaveng (1243528)

        You are correct! Look at this list of Christian ISPs. They have names like Integrity, Internet Safety, Safeplace.net. The only question is: Are they widely available, or am I still stuck with the Verizon/Comcast duopoly?

        http://christianity.about.com/od/practicaltools/tp/christianisps.htm [about.com]

        • by pin0chet (963774)

          Small niche ISPs like these don't get a fair shake in the current market because spectrum is tightly controlled by pandering bureaucrats and local franchise rights are impossible to obtain unless you sell your soul to Satan (buildout rules, 5% gross revenue taxes).

          And shouldn't Comcast and Verizon offer the same services as Christian ISPs as an option for subscribers? They haven't, probably because most people actually don't really want centralized filtering--even parents themselves.

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            Perhaps THAT'S what the FCC should be mandating. They already mandate that Comcast and other cable companies must provide "limited" cable television. Perhaps the FCC should also mandate "family friendly" tiers to these monopolies.

            Also I don't agree that people don't want the filtering. It just never occurred to them that it was possible, due to technological ignorance about filters. (It's hard to ask for something you did not know exists.)

            • Filtering is something you can, and should, provide yourself - it should not be the providers responsibility to cater to your individual whim (because that is what censorship is - highly individual).
              • by theaveng (1243528)

                >>>it should not be the providers responsibility to cater to your individual whim

                Why not? *Other* providers cater to my whim. My car provider lets me add or subtract features. My cellphone provider lets me choose $5 a month, $100 a month, or multiple levels in between. My kitchen provider lets me choose a $300 basic refrigerator or a $3000 deluxe refrigerator. And on and on and on.

                Why shouldn't my internet provider act exactly the same way?

                • Your car provider doesn't let you, on your own request, limit what you or your family can do or say in the vehicle, nor where you can travel or how they drive while travelling there.

                  Your cellphone provider doesn't allow you to tell them what you can and cannot say during a conversation, nor who you can or cannot call (they may block premium rate numbers, but I've yet to see a provider that blocks sex lines but allows gaming lines).

                  Your kitchen provider doesn't cater for preventing you or your family
                  • by theaveng (1243528)

                    I'm sorry but I'm not convinced. I don't see any reason why Comcast can not provide two options: Internet Uncensored for most people. And Internet Filtered for those who are religious or who have children surfing, and want a safe environment.

                    • Personally I think the answer is that all large last mile communications providers should be made to sell wholesale connections to smaller ISPs at a reasonable rates.

                      It has always struck me as odd that in many areas the telcos are mandated to do this but the cablecos aren't.

    • If the collective "landlords" want to impose certain requirements for use of their property, so be it.

      I'll first point out that a Slippery Slope isn't always a logical fallacy. That being said I can see undo amounts of bureaucracy and political and economic quarrels over this.

      If it is a government mandate, then at the very least there should be as little government regulation and influence as possible. I don't think the US would want something like Canada has were they require a certain proportion of Canadian content to be broadcast over their television sets and radio's, and were there is excessive amounts

    • Why should I have to pay more for things the government doesn't want me to see than I do for things the government does want me to see? Or, put another way, why should my tax dollars be used to subsidize the dissemination of information the government wants me to see while I must shell out extra money to see information the government does not want me to see?

      > If the collective "landlords" want to impose certain requirements for use
      > of their property, so be it.

      Fine, but just because we "can" doesn't

    • So what? Free broadcast television has filtering as well, to bring it down to "PG" level, so I don't see what the issue is here. If you want raunchy stuff, you upgrade to pay TV or pay internet that is not censored.

      You don't see a problem because you are only looking at the results of the rules rather than the reasons for the rules.

      FCC "decency" standards were created because television and radio are passive services - you turn the knob to a channel and then sit back and listen/watch to whatever is broadcast on that channel. It was decided that knowing the programming schedule - after all it is transmitted "out of band" so you can't rely on anyone to have it - was not sufficient to inform users of what kind of progra

    • So what? Free broadcast television has filtering as well, to bring it down to "PG" level, so I don't see what the issue is here. If you want raunchy stuff, you upgrade to pay TV or pay internet that is not censored.

      The FCC's proposal for free Internet actually included an option for no filtering, so the issue has less to do with having to choose a different provider for the "raunchy stuff" and more to do with the kinds of filters the government wouldn't let you opt-out of. The UK got a taste of what things

  • by D_Blackthorne (1412855) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:30PM (#26111945)
    ...not! I'm not in the least bit surprised, considering that every time someone tries to spearhead any type of free broadband internet access for the American public, it gets shouted down by corporate types from all four corners of the country. After all, we can't have Big Telecom's strangle-hold monopoly on broadband broken by even our puny government, now can we? Wasn't there a U.S. city that recently was sued by a telecom because they had the unmitigated gall to actually make plans to build their own fiber network for use by their residents, because that telecom didn't want to be bothered to build the infrastructure themselves? If you think things are strange now, just wait: I see very stormy times ahead; the War for the Internet is just beginning.
  • This is good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pin0chet (963774) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:33PM (#26111961)

    It's good to hear this plan is dead. Kevin Martin backed this network so he'd look like a "family-values man" and score some points with cultural conservatives in North Carolina, where Martin has long been planning a bid for Congress.

    This 25mhz of spectrum in the AWS3 band could go toward a lot of very cool services--LTE, for instance. Martin's plan--to earmark the 25mhz for 768kbps of censored wireless broadband that wouldn't even be widely deployed for a decade--is clearly not the smartest way to put these frequencies to use.

    The FCC should do one of two things with this spectrum--a)auction it off with no strings attached and allow the winning firm to sell or rent the spectrum as if it were property, or b)set the band free as unlicensed flexible use spectrum subject only to basic EIRP and non-interference requirements and nothing more.

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:34PM (#26111969)

    'Others simply asked the FCC not to take on such a major project as the transition between analog and digital television transmissions looms.'

    Why is this a 'major project'? And just what the heck has digital TV got to do with free wifi?

    Also, from one of the links.

    'Cell phone companies, in particular Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile, oppose the proposal, saying it will create interference, among other concerns. T-Mobile paid about $4.2 billion for an adjacent piece of spectrum.

    The FCC has said its engineers examined the issue and found no technical interference issues.'

    I suggest that the 'interference' that T-Mobile and others are worried about is the interference that this would create in them charging shitloads of money for internet access via their existing mobile networks.

    Shame - apart from perhaps boosting the USA's dismal record in internet access, just image what widely available free Internet access could do. Think what GPS did...

    I'm sure that ways could be found to ensure that network builders and operators could still get a decent ROI. Business users, for example, would still be prepared to pay extra for guaranteed voice/data coverage and added-value services.

    • by theaveng (1243528)

      >>>apart from perhaps boosting the USA's dismal record in internet access,

      The USA is no worse-off (approximately 6 Mbit/s) than the EU (same) or the Russian Federation (7 Mbit/s, and a lot better than Canada, Australia, or China (4, 4, and 2 Mbit/s).

      • The USA has the largest number of internet-connected people, but is #16 in per-capita.

        See

        http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/int_bro_acc_percap-internet-broadband-access-per-capita [nationmaster.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by theaveng (1243528)

          When I look at this I see:

          (0) A tiny country the size of Rhode Island, and not worthy of comparison to the USA, EU, Russia, or any other continent spanning federations.
          (0) A city; cities shouldn't be listed.
          (1) CANADA - 1.93
          (2) UNITED STATES/ EUROPEAN UNION (virtual tie) - 1.38 and 1.31 respectively
          (3) AUSTRALIA - 1.18
          (4) CHINA - 0.27
          (5) RUSSIA - 0.10

          There. The USA is not doing bad at all once you compare it to other federations the same freakin' size as the 2500-mile-wide USA. That's playing fair.

      • That's for people that can actually get it. My parents live in a semi-rural area and 56k is the only option. It's faster to send them DVDs of what I'm doing than to try and send them a Gallery link. 756k would be just fast enough to get them what they need.

        • by theaveng (1243528)

          I know it's a pain to be stuck behind 56k. It's only been 11 months since I abandoned 56k and upgraded to 750k DSL, but new technologies take time to propagate across the continent - 30 years for telephone and about 50 years for electricity. It's only been about 9 years since broadband first started being offered to residential consumer, so please be patient.

          Also, the U.S. is not doing badly when compared to other continental federations. You could be a lot worse off; you could be in Australia or Russia:

  • by Rahga (13479) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:42PM (#26112001) Homepage Journal

    The real fix for the filtering problem is not to filter, but to license access to the internet. To be completely honest, just about everything done on any public utility has rules and regulations and forces people to obtain licenses to use them. Want to drive on the road? Get a license. Want to be an electrician? Get a license. Want to check out library books? Get a license. If you abuse the public's trust, you get your license revoked. Unlike, say, blocking IPs of the RBN, content filtering will never work, socially or technically, so waste our time trying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rahga (13479)

      I just wanted to ammend my post by saying that none of this is a good idea, but if the government was in the business of good ideas, it would be better to license rather than filter. The former at least has a shot of succeeding to some degree.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by theaveng (1243528)

        Disagree strongly. Licensing means I have to ask permission to post my "Nudist Beach" website featuring naked people from age 1 to age 99, and the answer from politicians will be no; no; no.

        Filtering is better because it still allows to publish my website, and if you don't want to see it, you can turn on the filter while not blocking my (or my users) free speech/expression.

    • This already happens in the private system with terms of use. What value add would a government licensing bureaucracy provide, except money lost to administrative overhead?

    • And in order to obtain a license I must first agree to self-censor? That's actually worse than filtering, since it not only results in censorship as with filtering, but it also ensures that can't make use of a public communications medium without the government's permission.

      No thanks. Let's not fix what is not broken.

  • Filtered isn't Free (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unlametheweak (1102159) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:49PM (#26112053)

    Having a government mandated filter would set a dangerous precedent. Free is fine, but caveats aren't free. Or do they mean free as in repressed?

    • Why have this and a related comment a few doors up been modded "flamebait?" It's especially ironic in a discussion that involves freedom of speech.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    'Others simply asked the FCC not to take on such a major project as the transition between analog and digital television transmissions looms.'

    Future FCC employees will be tested to see if they can pat the top of their head whilst rubbing their tummy. If they fail the test, they get the job.

  • Business as usual (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Don't read too much into this. The whole auction was set up to benefit ONE COMPANY.

    The FCCs requirements for the use of the spectrum matched this company's business plan and nobody elses. So the cancellation of the auction isn't the bad thing you're making it out to be. It's a good thing, because all it would have done would have been to create another monopoly. Free web access? Nothing paid for with taxes is free. Get over it. I'd rather everyone pay for their own internet and keep my taxes low. I pay way

  • by Omestes (471991)

    I don't understand the civil rights group's position. I can understand being against censorship, but this seems rather moronic. Being totally against free internet access because of censorship seems like a "biting off your nose" moment.

    I'd rather have free wifi with censorship, than no free wifi at all. It isn't like this is going to replace home connection, or completely censor the full internet. It just sounds like another case of blind idealism leading to absurd consequences, once again. If anyone i

  • But first ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @04:11PM (#26112581)

    ... lets define exactly what "Internet service" is. Most people seem to think its the capability to access remote services of your choosing at your convenience. It turns out that, absent some sort of 'Net neutrality' regulations (or even a definition), this is only a temporary condition, thanks to the benevolence of the monopoly telecoms. At any time, they reserve the right to filter or impose pricing structures so as to direct customers to their preferred partners.

    I fear that the 'free service' will suffer from the same lack of understanding. Only PG content, services that have been blessed as 'approved' by the RIAA and MPAA and content deemed not to be politically incorrect will make it through the filters. The approval process to be placed on some white list (or get removed from a black list) will be every bit as onerous as having to pay kickbacks to be carried on the for-profit telecoms systems.

    IMO, the Internet is a series of networks, routing nodes and name services needed to create connections between two points or broadcast packets from one to many. Anything more restrictive than this should not legally be advertised as 'Internet Service'.

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