Free, nationwide WiFi. Drooling yet, or do I need to say it again? Free, nationwide WiFi from Google. As we mentioned earlier, Google is lobbying the FCC for some of the wireless spectrum that will be freed next year when television will cease analog transmission. Google’s plan? “Wi-Fi on steroids.” (Without the ‘roid rage, I’m guessing.)
Late Friday, Google submitted a six-page letter to the FCC outlining processes and tests to avoid interference on the frequencies in question. Google also promised to reserve some frequencies not for wireless Internet and provide free tech support for people using their Wi-Fi. Presumably, this would dovetail well with Android-enabled handsets, due out later this year.
This year’s wireless spectrum auction sold license to frequencies formerly occupied by UHF transmissions (ultra high frequency; no, it’s not just a Weird Al film) television channels 52-69. The ultra high and very high frequencies used by television channels 2 through 51 will no longer be used after February 17, 2009. Google planned to deliver sometime in Q4 2009.
If Google succeeds in convincing the FCC to sign on, however, there will be some major concerns with free Google WiFi, and rightfully so. Aaron Wall points out that as an ISP, Google will have access to massive amounts of user data that they could use to influence SERPs (and just wait until the privacy watchdogs get ahold of this). And if they did provide wireless for free, many people would probably be willing to part with this information in exchange for Internet access, which was probably costing them anywhere from $10 to $100 a month.
There are also some concerns over the wireless network itself: would connections be secure enough? Would they be fast enough to make it worth the while of heavy Internet users? Would anyone but the bandwidth-usingest Internet users care if their connections were slower, but free?