Can Google Save Wi-Fi?

Service providers seem to be throwing in the towel on Wi-Fi (or at least the municipal flavor of it). That's one reason why Google deserves some praise for its new "white-space airwaves" plan to broadcast wireless services over former television spectrum.   

Google foresees a new class of wireless devices based on its Android software standard offering much faster speeds. There's a debate at the FCC over what will become of the white-space spectrum after the nation's digital broadcasting mandate become reality next year. Traditional broadcasters are facing off against technology companies, including major channel players such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Intel, who are pushing for a more open approach to using the available spectrum. 

Channel partners could really benefit if Wi-Fi becomes faster, more reliable and offers a predictable ROI. EarthLink's recent decision to pull out of what had been a vanguard effort to bring low-cost Wi-Fi to Philadelphia is having a ripple effect that is spreading to other cities like San Francisco and Tempe, Ariz (where service providers once laid out grand plans for inexpensive wireless access.) If service and solution providers hope to profit from the wireless wave, they should keep a close eye on this political battle and what vendors like Google have in mind.


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