Microsoft and Google team up to support FCC WiFi ideas

Microsoft and Google are pretty much mortal enemies in many aspects of their various businesses, but there's at least one topic of discussion that the two companies are teaming up to support; the launch of free large WiFi networks in the US.

The Washington Post reports that the Federal Communications Commission have proposed a plan that could lead to powerful WiFi networks that would be set up to cover large metropolitan areas, along with many rural areas, in the US. Microsoft and Google, in written comments made to the FCC last week, support the department's proposal.

The two companies want more devices to connect to the Internet, which would also allow the owners of those devices to quickly connect to services from Google and Microsoft, including the recently launched cloud-based Office 2013 Home Premium.

As you might expect, the major wireless carriers in the US such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have been lobbying the FCC against the idea, along with chip makers like Qualcomm and Intel. They feel launching such free WiFi networks might interfere with established cellular networks. However, it's more likely that they fear many smartphone users will simply access these large and free WiFi signals for their phone and data service.

Even if the FCC does go ahead with this proposal, it will still take a number of years before these networks are built.

Source: Washington Post
Free WiFi image via Shutterstock

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i would think that this may force wireless providers to offer better pricing for its customers or boost the speeds of their WiFi hotspots.

I don't feel at all for mobile carriers, when I was in the US recently my carrier, which is Vodafone, decided that (3G) data for €7.50 per 1 (ONE) MB is reasonable. f*** them!

Perhaps the wireless carriers wouldn't be so worried if they were charging a reasonable fee. The fact that they charge fees which skirt extortionate lines, probably plays a big part in why Google and Microsoft would even be remotely interested in this. If data fees were reasonable (read: stupidly cheap) as they should be, more people would have them and USE them and G+M wouldn't be bothering.

Even if you excuse the above, lack of coverage is probably a factor as well. Carriers would rather hike their rates than build their infrastructure. Greedy idiots. G+M see how connected other countries are and clearly want a piece of that pie here.

The main problem isn't even with the (arguably) unreasonable cost. It's with hardware. At the moment the cellular networks are completely clogged up. We have n00bs downloading YouTube videos, constant image fetching and constant audio streaming over hardware that is meant to handle simple text and low bitrate audio. Blame smartphones, most people don't even know the difference between cellular and WiFi -the internet is the internet and they want it wherever they are. The carriers aren't going to fork out the stupendous amounts of money to fix this issue of congestions because it will ultimately destroy their bottom line with no advantage to them. There is not enough marginal or swinging customers to be able to fund such projects capable of yielding a form of income. If anything it will turn out like this: Telco upgrades and installs new high bandwidth towers and links to allow greater throughput. Telco has to hire more people to manage, maintain and manipulate these new services. Telco realises that it is loosing boat loads of money and so increases prices. No one wants to pay even more than what they are paying now for bandwidth and so they leave that service provider for another. Telco loses.

Best case scenario is that telcos upgrade their hardware and the price magically becomes cheaper. Then what? You guessed it, the network becomes congested within a year or so. If we truly are in a "post-pc" and "mobile" world this problem is going to be pretty darn serious. We want everything cheap and the best but you can't have both, at least not with cellular. The solution to the problem? WiFi. Will it work? Who knows, I can already imagine it becoming an absolute security nightmare as we have TCP/IP rerouting, sniffing, poisoning, spoofing, infecting, injecting among other useful methods of gaining data. It may solve one problem but don't you worry it will create just as many more!

Anyway. The telcos are mad because they are basically trapped as outlined by my points above. They want people to pay through the nose to use their crappy cellular service and not have to do anything to make it better. Now their is a semi-viable (I'm yet to see how this will all pan out) alternative and they are scared, real scared.

ingramator said,
The carriers aren't going to fork out the stupendous amounts of money to fix this issue.....

They should. People forget that governments and watchdogs have repeatedly ordered/got them to lower their unreasonable extortionate pricing, with very little on offer as a return for it. We've all paid toward better infrastructure already, and it's their responsibility to deliver it.

So what now? They're whining that technology companies like Microsoft and Google are going to help them stay on older technology and even charge premium pricing for that?

Its not clogged up due to people spamming the airwaves with downloading youtube, its generally a lack of towers and just overal readyness of carriers.

Also what are you talking about 3g/4g are build for internet data, not just voice, thats the GSM signal your thinking about.

Neobond said,

They should. People forget that governments and watchdogs have repeatedly ordered/got them to lower their unreasonable extortionate pricing, with very little on offer as a return for it.

Depending on your nation, the government does have the power to decrease and regulate prices in an environment that they think is fixed or with extortionate pricing but the truth is, there really isn't a case. You may think that all telcos are ripping you off but by laws of competition, if there are more than two viable competitors in one market then "technically" this competition should drive prices down. Since the US has a billion different carriers you would think these "unfair" prices should come down, for some carriers anyway. Why haven't they? Because why should they. People are paying money, they are making a clean profit and lowering prices to marginally higher then wholesale or actual price would turn the telco into little more than a government service, hardly within the ideals of business. So if the regulator or "watch dog" claims prices are too higher carriers will say there is plenty of competition (which there is) which means they are operating at their "most competitive" rate. If the legal system says they are bound to reducing the price they will appeal and likely succeed. If they don't then they will kill the service or inflate other areas of their services.

As to upgrading infrastructure, won't happen, without a large government subsidy (which is not going to happen, especially with the state of US and world economies in some serious debt to our asian buddies). The government can only force them if they believe they could do it.

[Quote]They're whining that technology companies like Microsoft and Google are going to help them stay on older technology and even charge premium pricing for that?[/Quote]

Essentially. The mobile data market is for telcos (well so they want it anyhow) and when the biggest names in the game come and try and take something from you because they have resources you don't have, thats when you get mad and rage at the government and its bodies! Hopefully the consumer will win here but lets be honest, when does the consumer truly win when it comes to business? Competition may "drive innovation and prices down" but it also brings out the worst in people, we're talking exploitation of workers (particularly in 3rd world companies), cutting corners on infrastructure (unreliable services) and of course focusing on the bottom line instead of the goods or services they are meant to be providing (including job cutting, overworking hours, job security bargaining).

ingramator said,

Depending on your nation, the government does have the power to decrease and regulate prices in an environment that they think is fixed or with extortionate pricing but the truth is, there really isn't a case. You may think that all telcos are ripping you off but by laws of competition, if there are more than two viable competitors in one market then "technically" this competition should drive prices down. Since the US has a billion different carriers you would think these "unfair" prices should come down, for some carriers anyway. Why haven't they? Because why should they. People are paying money, they are making a clean profit and lowering prices to marginally higher then wholesale or actual price would turn the telco into little more than a government service, hardly within the ideals of business. So if the regulator or "watch dog" claims prices are too higher carriers will say there is plenty of competition (which there is) which means they are operating at their "most competitive" rate. If the legal system says they are bound to reducing the price they will appeal and likely succeed. If they don't then they will kill the service or inflate other areas of their ).


Ever heard of the word "Cartel"? That is what carriers are. There is no competition because, in reality, they fix the prices.
And yes the costs here in the US are ridiculous. I travel a lot and I have French, Swiss, Italian and other European carriers Sims and the price differences with the US are substantial. Not to mention the " mother of all the frauds" we have to endure here: paying not only when you place a call but when you receive one as well.

ingramator said,
The main problem isn't even with the (arguably) unreasonable cost. It's with hardware. At the moment the cellular networks are completely clogged up. We have n00bs downloading YouTube videos, constant image fetching and constant audio streaming over hardware that is meant to handle simple text and low bitrate audio. Blame smartphones, most people don't even know the difference between cellular and WiFi -the internet is the internet and they want it wherever they are. The carriers aren't going to fork out the stupendous amounts of money to fix this issue of congestions because it will ultimately destroy their bottom line with no advantage to them. There is not enough marginal or swinging customers to be able to fund such projects capable of yielding a form of income. If anything it will turn out like this: Telco upgrades and installs new high bandwidth towers and links to allow greater throughput. Telco has to hire more people to manage, maintain and manipulate these new services. Telco realises that it is loosing boat loads of money and so increases prices. No one wants to pay even more than what they are paying now for bandwidth and so they leave that service provider for another. Telco loses.

I'm sorry but, congestion as an excuse is a complete load of crap. It's the same lame excuse used by ISP's who just don't want to upgrade their infrastructure. When they were called to prove there was congestion, they failed miserably and were brought to the forefront as the liars they truly are. They don't want to fork over any cash to do what they're suppose to be doing, providing a premium service to match their premium prices. Blame smartphones? For what? It's not like smartphones were this magical surprise that no one saw coming. Carries have had YEARS to prepare for said smartphones. Instead of upgrading, they limped along on their extremely lame sub-par networks until now. Interesting how it didn't really take that long to throw up LTE. Sure it's not available in every area but we went from no LTE to LTE in numerous places in a 12 month period. They have the means to provide, they just want to drag their feet so they can extort more money.

Let's not even get into the $30/month I pay for 6GB data on my phone here in Canada, or the fact that THAT was a promotion...it's more now.

ingramator said,
Best case scenario is that telcos upgrade their hardware and the price magically becomes cheaper. Then what? You guessed it, the network becomes congested within a year or so. If we truly are in a "post-pc" and "mobile" world this problem is going to be pretty darn serious. We want everything cheap and the best but you can't have both, at least not with cellular. The solution to the problem? WiFi. Will it work? Who knows, I can already imagine it becoming an absolute security nightmare as we have TCP/IP rerouting, sniffing, poisoning, spoofing, infecting, injecting among other useful methods of gaining data. It may solve one problem but don't you worry it will create just as many more!

I'm confused as to why and how this is such an issue? The last I checked, the Internet already exists. Smartphones, tablets and laptops aren't going to magically erode the Internet. They are simply devices that connect to it. So what exactly is the issue here?

ingramator said,
Anyway. The telcos are mad because they are basically trapped as outlined by my points above. They want people to pay through the nose to use their crappy cellular service and not have to do anything to make it better. Now their is a semi-viable (I'm yet to see how this will all pan out) alternative and they are scared, real scared.

The carriers have already started deploying LTE and have been for over a year. If you're in a place where it's available, the speeds make Wifi a moot point. The issue here comes down to cost. Aside from ****ing and moaning while building whatever infrastructure they're forced into building (to compete), they want to charge you out the ass to use it. "You can pry his money from my cold, dead hands!!!" I would LOVE to see G+M succeed in this and move to do it globally. Even if it isn't free, I bet the price to use this service would be extremely cheaper than using one of the carriers.

[quote=nekkidtruth said,] I don't know anything about cellular networks.[/quote] I am agreeing mate, I think the price is ridiculous for what you get but you need to understand the hardware side of things, which you clearly don't have the faintest clue about. [quote]

[quote=nekkidtruth said,]Smartphones, tablets and laptops aren't going to magically erode the Internet. They are simply devices that connect to it. So what exactly is the issue here?[quote] If you'd bother to read, I was talking about the data streams, smartphones/tablets are eating up all the bandwidth on infrastructure. Sure you can upgrade your network to LTE but all that bandwidth will be eaten up as well. I don't know about you in the US but our switch from 2G to 3G "will increase speeds drastically" and now we essentially get the same, if now slower speeds because everyone is using them. The exact same thing will happen with LTE.

ingramator said,
I am agreeing mate, I think the price is ridiculous for what you get but you need to understand the hardware side of things, which you clearly don't have the faintest clue about.

Perhaps you should refrain from insulting my intelligence if you want me to "understand" anything. I know much about cellular networks. Enough to know that you have no idea what you're talking about. You seem to be clinging to the misconception that we're still living in the early 2000's where most phones use GPRS networks barely capable of sending a simple text message. LTE networks (let alone HSDPA) are fully capable of maintaining the bandwidth required by today's devices. But you must already know that...clearly you're trolling.

Oh and I can do this too....

ingramator said,
General trolling without a single clue how cellular technology works.

Try again.

All these wireless signals, only getting worse as time goes on. I need a house built with shielding to stop this from affecting my family!

A guy at work was telling me about how radio waves will kill you. I noticed his wireless mouse and ask about it. He pointed out the location of the wireless receiver a and said "I know where the line of sight is between the two devices and I stay out of it." Awesome idea, too bad reality doesn't agree :-)

AngelGraves13 said,
Of course wireless carriers oppose it. They're greedy ********ers who want every penny you make and then some.

Thanks for the spectrum monopolies, FCC!