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FCC Considering Free Wireless Broadband as Part of National Plan

The FCC won't unveil its long-awaited National Broadband Plan until next week, but it has already hinted at what would be one of its most intriguing items: free wireless access. As Reuters reports, the Commission was pretty mum on details, but did say in a statement that offering a "free or a very low cost wireless broadband service" to specific swaths of the population may significantly boost online accessibility. In the same statement, released at the Digital Inclusion Summit, the FCC said that it would also recommend that Congress create a volunteer Digital Literacy Corps, which could offer Internet training to targeted communities with low wireless coverage rates.

It's important to keep in mind that these are only recommendations. The FCC will surely beef up the argument for providing free Internet, and will hopefully offer some sort of outline about how to go about implementing it. Ultimately, though, it'll be up to members of Congress to pick and choose what parts of the FCC's proposal it wants to put into action. Given the political gridlock that's recently taken hold of Capitol Hill (and the sadly realistic possibility that "socialist Wi-Fi" could ignite another powder keg of Tea Party hysteria), we wouldn't get our hopes up, even in a country where one-third of the population doesn't have high-speed access. Providing free or subsidized broadband makes absolutely perfect sense -- which is exactly why we're not optimistic about seeing it come to fruition.

(Ed. note: The story's title should have read "FCC Considering Free Wireless Broadband," not "Free Wi-Fi.") [From: Reuters, via: LifeHacker]

Tags: broadband, broadbandaccess, fcc, FreeInternet, government, legislation, nationalbroadbandplan, top