FCC ponders free wireless provision

Published: May 29th, 2008

The FCC is considering a provision in an upcoming auction for spectrum in the U.S. that would demand that the winner set aside some of the 25 MHz for free wireless Internet services.

I don’t picture this as being blazing-fast Internet services. There’s got to be an incentive for users to pay for service in the rest of the block, and bigger pipes spring to mind. But it could be a small-scale lifesaver for travellers, particularly from regions where data roaming rates are excruciating (like, I dunno, Canada?), who need a quick fix of e-mail or mapping services on the road — if, of course, they’ve got a 2155 MHz range hand set.

And conspicuously absent from the reaction to the proposal, which will be considered at a June 12 meeting, was Google. This is tailor-made for its ad-supported model. Between gaming the last auction and this proposition, it makes you wonder why auction conditions have been so generous to the giant lately.

By the way, want the applications, the flexibility, the just playing sexy factor of the iPhone, but can’t be bothered cracking one, don’t want to pay above-mentioned excruciating data rates, and really have trouble justifying the cost of the Real Thing? Keep your existing phone and get an iPod Touch. It’s got much the same functionality, and those of us in urban areas well-serviced by Wi-Fi hotspots can pull off much of the same iPhone cool for much less cash. Thanks to good friend and respected geek Sean Carruthers for the tip.

And, excuse me for reopening decades-old wounds, but it happened again today: I accidentally dial a local number with the long distance “1” prefix. The carrier’s recording informs me it is not a long distance number, and that I am not to dial “1.” Does it follow the next logical step and connect me to the not-long-distance number? No. How difficult can it be to rectify this? How long have people of the observational whining persuasion pointed this out. How long must this madness go on? (Sound of writer climbing off hysterical soapbox.)

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