I’ve been of the opinion for years, that at some point soon, people will no longer have to pay for Internet access; that it will devolve from a product itself, into simply a product delivery system.
Not only that, but all our services (cell phones, home phones, TV, and of course, “Internet access”) will be delivered over this network- which, if everybody is connected (end-users and businesses alike), will open up huge opportunities for competitive companies in all sorts of markets.
And, of course, it will all be that much easier if this magical Internet connection was fast, and wireless; just give your new TV some power, and it will connect to your services provider automatically using it’s wireless card; forget about cellular- your new portable VOIP phone will connect over the same wireless network.
No longer will whole provinces/cites/states be subject to incumbent providers, who’s only grip on our patronage, is that they happen to be the current guardians of the copper.
Well last Nov, the FCC voted unanimously to approve the use of the unused airwaves between broadcast TV channels (aka the “white space”), for wireless broadband service for the public (which, I have to say is pretty surprising that the FCC would support something good for the people, and not special interest groups)- of course, it was only after years of testing and poking and prodding by the Wireless Innovation Alliance (of whom some notable members are Google and Microsoft).
The spectrum itself is also ideal, as it has a much longer range than wifi, which means fewer base-stations to cover larger areas, which ultimately means lower costs to operate- so while it’s been hinted at, it doesn’t say this wireless Internet connection is going to be free- but definitely affordable (cheap even)- and one step closer to free.
On the coat-tails of the FCC, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) is meeting on Feb 17th to discuss doing the same for Canadians, but Canada isn’t set to shut off analogue TV until February 2011- which means a few years until it’s even possible.
Maybe I can fake my geo-location, and get access through Buffalo. 😉
Regarding the switch from analog tv to digital…
Upside: White space frequencies can be reused for efficient wireless internet
Downside: We can no longer watch the residual background radiation from the big bang by looking at the static between channels.
It’s a toss-up.
The good thing about the FCC’s decision (or Microsoft’s/Google’s “coercion”) is that it acknowledges that the access to information is a basic right. So if the Internet happens to be the tool in which this information is garnered, it needs to be available to everyone, at all times. (YES!)
I hope the CRTC does follow suit, and quickly too. Using available channels to shift one medium over to another, will probably be the most archaic means of becoming increasingly cutting-edge. Perhaps in this scenario, a little American muscle, will be necessary to force the CRTC’s hand.