Will Google offer first nationwide free Wi-Fi?

The search engine is dropping hints.

By Benzinga Apr 8, 2013 5:23PM
Image: Man with laptop (© Ken Seet/SuperStock)By Jim Probasco

Rumor had it that, back in February, that the Federal Trade Commission planned to make Wi-Fi free for most of the country.


The Washington Post first detailed the plan, saying it would extend free Wi-Fi to nearly every metropolitan area in the United States, along with “many rural areas.”


Without providing a great deal of detail, in theory the FCC would force local TV stations to sell chunks of airwave spectrum rights to the U.S. government, which would then use them for public Wi-Fi networks.


Clearly, such a move would be a game changer – altering the communication landscape forever. Traditional cellular networks would be drastically affected in a negative way. Conversely, Internet companies would flourish with increasing numbers of citizens using their services.


According to The Washington Post report, cellular carriers such as AT&T (T), Intel (INTC), and Verizon (VZ) object to what they see as the crippling effect nationwide free wireless would have on their business.


This is something they are already seeing with regard to SMS revenues -- and with the advent of mobile messaging services like WhatsApp, Pinger, and GroupMe, which use the Internet to send free text messages.


As for the advocates, Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) see things quite differently. From their perspective, a free nationwide Wi-Fi network means more business and more customers for them. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)


There’s just one problem. There is no FCC plan to provide free nationwide Wi-Fi.


Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica put the kibosh on the whole “free Wi-Fi” story, saying it was “basically nonsense.”


Brodkin faulted The Washington Post's reporter Cecilia Kang for taking a minor development in the FCC’s rules concerning “incentive auctions that might free up some additional unlicensed spectrum for so-called ‘White Space Devices,’” and essentially, jumping to conclusions that were not there.


So that’s it, then? End of story? Not quite. Remember Google? The company apparently still has ambitions to wire the world, one community at a time, if necessary.


So far, Google has provided free Wi-Fi to its hometown of Mountainview, parts of New York City, Kansas City and most recently, Douglasville, GA, as reported by the Douglas County Sentinel on Friday.


That’s not all. Digital Trends also reported Friday a rumor that Google has been in negotiations for four to five weeks, to acquire cross-platform messaging app, Whatsapp.


The deal, reportedly worth almost $1 billion, would fill Google’s cross-platform messaging needs nicely and, more importantly, quickly, an important aspect of non-cellular Wi-Fi service for users.


At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco has no position in any of the mentioned equities


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2Comments
Apr 8, 2013 10:04PM
avatar

For once an advantage for the consumer.Att,verizon,google,COMCAST who just bought nbc,cnbc,30 Rockefeller cener the golf channel have  ALL been ripping off the American consumer for years,Believe me I believe in capitalism but when these companies get away with overcharging because their in collusion with each other and congress has either deregulated the industry or

is looking the other way while filling their own pockets wirh campaign contributions etc.Wake up America take the fight to Washington,term limits.yes.Campaign finance reform,yes.Those two issues will give Washington back to the American people,Washington isn't going to do it on its own.

Apr 9, 2013 10:20AM
avatar
It would be easier to vote Libertarian. #1, unlikely we will ever get term limits, that fight has been ongoing for at least 20 years and is no closer now than 20 years ago. #2, finance reform? No way we will get that from the Dems. or Repubs. Bottom line is we need the 2 parties that have screwed things up OUT. All out.
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