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National News

February 6, 2013

Five Things To Know About Public WiFi

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WASHINGTON —

3. The FCC is taking public comments before voting.

Officials and industry analysts say lobbying over the proposal has heated up lately. Telecom giants including network equipment makers and chip manufacturers have opposed the plan and warned against using airwaves that could interfere with other networks. But not all wireless carriers have taken a position. Verizon Wireless and AT&T said generally more access to WiFi is good for them, too, unburdening their cellular networks.

The five-member FCC commission will vote on the plan this year and the auctions are expected to take place in 2014.

4. It could take years for this to happen.

Some analysts said the plan is "aspirational." Not only will there be a lot of political discussion, but it could take time for companies and consumers to figure out how best to use a new set of public airwaves.

5. It's part of the FCC's mission.

The FCC has a congressional mandate to repurpose airwaves for the public use. And agency officials believe that broader Web access, or what is expected to be free services, will lead to more innovation and choices for consumers, especially the poor.

 

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