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Free Public Wi-Fi to Get Faster to Meet Mobile Demands

Kenneth Corbin | Feb. 22, 2013
In response to the soaring use of smartphones, tablets and other data-hungry wireless devices in public mobile broadband hotspots such as airports and convention centers, government regulators have voted in favor of a proposal to increase the capacity of free public Wi-Fi.

The same bill that authorized the FCC to conduct the so-called incentive auctions also directed the agency to expand the availability and use of unlicensed spectrum, which advocates say is an essential test bed for novel technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

"Good spectrum requires both licensed and unlicensed services across multiple spectrum bands," Rosenworcel said.

Wednesday's action marks the first formal step in what could be a lengthy process of expanding Wi-Fi availability. Much of the spectrum in question is currently occupied by agencies of the federal government, which means that the FCC will have to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure that new unlicensed Wi-Fi networks don't interfere with drones or other federal applications that operate in the spectrum band.


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