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FCC Considering Free Internet For USA 502

jbolden writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is considering a plan to provide free wireless internet. The plan would involve some level of filtering, but might allow adults to opt out. CTIA has argued that this business model has traditionally failed (see Slate magazine's analysis as to why)."
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FCC Considering Free Internet For USA

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  • by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:59PM (#25946709) Homepage

    I am a resident of the city of Philadelphia. Maybe you've heard of our cities wireless initiative over the years. It began, as the Slate article mentions with Earthlink putting up access points all over the city, and charging $20/month for access. The main problem was that the service rarely actually WORKED. I tried it for a week when I was unemployed and looking to save money. They gave me a box to connect to my computer with an antenna the length of my arm, and even so the signal would fluctuate wildly from minute to minute, from full strength to zero strength, no matter where I put the box or aimed the antenna.

    The network is still there after Earthlink abandoned it. It shows up on my celphone (sometimes) as something I can connect to. Only I don't think I've ever once successfully loaded a web page using in on my celphone, and not for lack of trying in all different parts of the city. In other words, now that its free its more useless than ever.

  • It's not WLAN (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:02PM (#25946765)

    The slate analysis is about Wi-Fi. The current plan is about allocating a frequency band to a private company and in return that company must use part of that band to provide free wireless internet access. That is not the same as a WLAN you can hop on with every notebook.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:11PM (#25946947) Homepage Journal

    WiFi isn't a very good technology to use for a city wide mesh anyway. I'm sure it can be done, but number of failed citywide WiFi networks vs. the few that are said to be effective reinforces my opinion on this. It looks to me that by and large, the people that set them up didn't understand and compensate for the weaknesses of such a network.

  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:20PM (#25947127) Journal
    People will absorb ANY amount of bandwidth if it's free. This thing will ALWAYS be overloaded and unusable. Period.

    A properly designed mesh will have more bandwidth the more users it has. Bittorrent is a virtual mesh network, and it works so well that the legacy network can't handle the simulation.
  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:26PM (#25947245) Homepage

    SS? Social Security? Very low overhead, actually. Tiny. Nearly all of their spending is in the form of checks to citizens, which is the whole point. They even bring in more money than they spend--at least for now.

    The problem is that they'll stop bringing in that surplus and start spending from savings in a couple of years, due to demographic shifts (the baby boomers). This means that they'll run out of money around 2040. SS can't spend money that isn't from the special tax that's set aside just for it (FICA) so it's unclear what would happen in such an event.

    It's a bit misleading to compare SS spending to other government spending, in fact, since its funding is from that sole source and it does not and cannot take money from the general budget. In fact, the very large surplus from SS is used to as a source to borrow for spending in the general budget, so its presence makes our deficit look artificially lower than it is.

    To summarize: SS is among the most efficiently-run government programs, and actually props up the general budget rather than dragging it down, at least for the next 30 years or so.

  • by Jaeph ( 710098 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:29PM (#25947285)

    Government screws up everything it touches. Roads, military (talk to someone in the military and you'll get a million stories), mail, everything.

    I'm not advocating zero government here, but we need to be wary about giving the government more work to do on such basic services. The opportunities for corruption (intentional or due to negligence) are immense here. Right now I fail to see the pros outweighing the cons when it comes to both govt-controlled internet and health care.


  • Not Free (Score:2, Informative)

    by TonyXL ( 33244 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:30PM (#25947297) Journal

    Whether you use it or not, you will pay for it via taxes, debt, or inflation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:38PM (#25947475)

    Let me guess, you're a young (<40) person that has this idea that all these places with free health-care are so much better than the US. You have never actually lived in another country for 10+ years and had to use the services or hear the real stories of how it works from people caught in it.

    Let me put it to you this way, despite giving up their free health care people in other countries want to move to the US and don't see that as a drawback.

  • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:44PM (#25947585)

    Most of us agree that the federal government, which generally overspends and either under-delivers or flat out fails on nearly every project it undertakes due to a variety of reasons including red tape, accountability, nepotism, corruption, power seekers, over-regulation, and plain old mismanagement, would do a lousy job providing internet access.

    And some of you want to this same bureaucracy to provide health care?!

  • Re:Grammar (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:50PM (#25947685)

    If you are going to be a grammar nazi, do it properly. Passed is a verb (and was used properly), where past can be a noun, adjective or adverb.

    No. You did not use it properly.

    "If I had paid attention in the past I might have passed English and would know the difference between past and passed, alas I did not, and the opportunity to do so has passed into the past."

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:58PM (#25947819)

    The reconviction rate is far more relevant because arrests are not indicative of guilt and are subject to sociopolitical factors. Reconviction rate is 46.9%, with most of the reconvictions being non-violent and with "hardcore" criminals most likely to reoffend.

    What this tells us is that the majority of criminals are rehabilitated, with those who have _already_ shown a resistance to rehabilitation being those most likely to reconvict. But even among frequent offenders (more than 15 prior arrests) offenders, 17.9% are not rearrested (details not available on conviction rate). That's much better than I would have expected.

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @02:18PM (#25948219) Journal

    Don't forget that in America, the minimum sentence someone can get for a SINGLE pot plant is 5 years federal time, which is much longer than the average crack dealer gets for his first offense.

    Nothing more dangerous than a pothead with a green thumb.

  • Re:Tax Dollars (Score:4, Informative)

    by ZosX ( 517789 ) <zosxaviusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 01, 2008 @08:43PM (#25953721) Homepage

    Interesting how the average sentences are 7-8 years for violent offenders and 6-7 years for drug offenders. It would be a better composite to take a whole year into account.....and what's that....Obama wants to double the tax on the rich? And what's with the bracket in the middle between 2-300k that only has to pay $12......???

    Gotta love this stat...

    "With less than 5% of world population; USA has over 2.3 million of 9 million world prisoners!"

    "The U.S. incarceration rate is over 5 times higher than in 1971 when the impeached arch-criminal, "law-and-order" President Richard Nixon declared an evil "war on drugs" as a substitute for the good "war on poverty.""

    "At midyear 2005, nearly 4.7 percent of black males were in prison or jail, compared to 1.9 percent of Hispanic males, and 0.7 percent of white males. Among males in their late 20s, nearly 12 percent of black males, compared to 3.9 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males, were incarcerated"

    Oh he links to this great story too...

    "CHICAGO -- The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee, which displayed those statistics on large banners in cities nationwide Thursday and Friday.

    0923 05The war is costing $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the group's analysis of the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes.

    The estimates made by the group, which opposes the conflict, include not only the immediate costs of war but also ongoing factors such as long-term health care for veterans, interest on debt and replacement of military hardware.

    "The wounded are coming home, and many of them have severe brain and spinal injuries, which will require round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives," said Michael McConnell, Great Lakes regional director of the AFSC, a peace group affiliated with the Quaker church.

    The $720 million figure breaks down into $280 million a day from Iraq war supplementary funding bills passed by Congress, plus $440 million daily in incurred, but unpaid, long-term costs."

    Of course he is also claiming that 1.2 million iraqis have died. I've heard the figures near the couple hundred thousand mark, but million?

    Thanks for the zany link =)

  • by gacl ( 1078259 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @09:26PM (#25954065)
    Health care is indeed a right. You can go to other countries and get treatment for anything without paying a cent. My aunt's ex-husband moved to Venezuela for that very reason. After developing some strange condition here in the US he realized that it was actually impossible to pay for the treatment. In this country if you have no money it is expected that you'll just lay down and die. He's well now, by the way. And i think he's staying there for good. . . for obvious reasons.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson