super wi-fi

It's time to stop cheering "Super Wi-Fi"

September 29, 2010: 4:30 AM ET

If the government really wanted the new, more powerful Wi-Fi to work, it wouldn't confine it to the margins of the spectrum world.

Two TV towers

Just soaking up some long airwaves

When Julius Genachowski announced the creation of "Super Wi-Fi" last week, the nation's top telecom regulator painted it as a high-tech triumph. Under his plan, the government will open up access to powerful airwaves that can easily penetrate walls, allowing phone calls, tweets, Netflix streams, and every other digital necessity into the zero-bar zones of office buildings and homes.

Just imagine, the Federal Communications Commission chief raved: new Wi-Fi networks will soon be able to cover not just individual homes but whole neighborhoods.

But there's another way of looking at the birth of Super Wi-Fi: as a tale not of triumph but tragedy. It's the story of a powerful technology whose potential won't be achieved because of a bet made long ago on a now outdated technology. A bet that Congress stubbornly refuses to rethink.


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