REALITY CHECK: "Wi-Fi On Steroids" Is Still Going To Cost Money To Use

brick cell phone

Good news for America! The FCC has approved rules for using “white spaces” — wireless airwaves between TV channels — for Internet access. This is the “wi-fi on steroids” concept that Google made a big pitch for in 2008.

This has, understandably, gotten a lot of geeks excited.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler writes, “Imagine a future where white space WiFi blankets cities and people can use WiFi phones instead of the the ones tied to carriers. Maybe I’m dreaming here, but please don’t wake me up, at least for a few minutes.”

It’s a nice dream.

But let’s not forget two things:

  • Someone is going to have to provide the Internet access to these devices, and no one is in better shape to be that service provider than the same telecom, mobile, and cable carriers that people want to run away from.
  • This Internet access is going to cost money to use, and may be even more expensive than the wireless Internet you pay for today. (If it’s faster, why shouldn’t it cost more? Bandwidth and equipment aren’t free.)

There’s no such thing as free Internet access, unless someone else wants to pay for you to use it. And that’s not going to change.

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