Nationwide Wireless Broadband Internet
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 06:24:27 PM EDT
Over the last several weeks I've been laboring through the process of trying to get mobile broadband internet for my laptop, a task that has proved surprisingly difficult given that I use a Mac rather than a PC. Though I have seemed to alleviate my individual problem (I dumped Cingular/ATT in favor of Sprint), a larger more fundamental issue still remains: Achieving universal broadband internet coverage at least in part by greatly increasing the implementation and reach of wireless service.
MoveOn is beginning to directly address this issue of wireless internet access. MoveOn.org Civic Action just launched a major initiative to tell the Federal Elections Commission to write regulations that serve the public's good rather than that of the large telecommunications corporations. Explaining their petition, MoveOn writes,
The federal government is on the verge of turning over a huge portion of our public airwaves to companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast--who will use them for private enrichment instead of the public good.
These newly available airwaves are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize Internet access -- beaming high-speed signals to every park bench, coffee shop, workplace, and home in America at more affordable prices than current Internet service. Phone and cable companies don't want this competition to their Internet service--they'd rather purchase the airwaves at auction and sit on them.
In June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make a major decision: Use the public airwaves for the public good, or turn them over to big companies who will stifle competition, innovation, and the wireless Internet revolution. We're urging the FCC to mandate that whoever wins the auction cannot stifle competition and innovation.
The FCC has been at this juncture before, weighing the merits of innovation and public interest versus large corporations' short-term lust for high profits. Back in 1947 a decision by the commission to side with broadcasters against ATT over the use of and access to portions of spectrum held back the development of cellular technologies for one to two decades. A similar decision by the FCC today on spectrum, this time relating to wireless internet rather than cellular technologies, would be equally short-sighted and perhaps even more deleterious towards technological development.
Currently, the rate in growth of internet access within the America has seemingly stalled, and the United States now trails several countries including Estonia -- yes, the Estonia whose per capita GDP is only about two-fifths of that of the United States -- in terms of broadband access, according to some metrics. In this light, it becomes even more clear that a decision by the FCC to side with telcos against the American public on this issue could be highly disastrous.
If you believe that America should not be in the second- or third-tier of high-speed internet access and that the publicly-owned radio spectra should be allocated in ways that serve the American public, not just large corporations, head on over to MoveOn and show your support for this extremely important initiative.