Universal Free Wi-Fi?

Derek Mead gets excited about a new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission:

Internet access is an essential need on par with education access, but at what point do regulators recognize that? When will government officials acknowledge that widespread, guaranteed access is essential to fostering growth in the country? Somewhat surprisingly, that time is now, as the FCC is now calling for nationwide free wi-fi networks to be opened up to the public.

Jon Brodkin throws cold water, noting that this is “just the White Spaces proposal that’s been around for a few years”:

White Spaces takes the spectrum from empty TV channels and allows the airwaves to be used for Wi-Fi, or “Super Wi-Fi” as it’s sometimes called. Using lower frequencies than traditional Wi-Fi, White Spaces signals would be better at penetrating obstacles and thus travel farther. But the FCC isn’t going to build the network itself. The agency allocates spectrum for certain uses to spur private investment—someone else will have to find a reason to build it. … Free Wi-Fi everywhere you go? Keep dreaming, you crazy dreamers.