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The Federal Communications Commission voted yes to improve service through signal boosters and work to free up more airwaves for “Gigabit Wi-Fi” this morning. Gigabit Wi-Fi would lead to faster speeds and be able to handle more devices. This step brings the prospect of future public Wi-Fi one step closer to becoming a reality.
The FCC’s order isn’t meant to make life easier for wireless carriers, but rather to increase user experience. Signal boosters would increase the distance of service in rural areas and the amount of penetration into thick cement buildings.
Yes, this is meant to help the consumer, but the FCC doesn’t want to remove dead spots so users can tweet on the subway or check-in at crowded stadiums. This proposal is meant to help families that no longer use landlines and rely exclusively on wireless carriers to communicate with each other. It is also meant to help first responders in emergency situations. Look back at cell service going down in New York City on September 11 and the fear that came with not being able to contact loved ones. Signal boosters and Gigabit Wi-Fi would help in times of a crisis like Hurricane Sandy or during the Russian meteor crash.
When we’re not under a national crisis, the expanded broadband will lead to better speeds and service in places that have traditionally been devoid of cell service or lacking in Wi-Fi. All five commissioners bemoaned their experiences with dropped calls or molasses-like Internet speeds. They know better Wi-Fi will increase productivity for the general population and bring technological opportunities to those without service. Companies like Google and Microsoft support the FCC’s proposal and believe that putting tools in the hands of the people – in this case Wi-Fi – will lead to a 21st century renaissance of new innovations.
Sadly, we won’t all have access to public Wi-Fi anytime soon. At the earliest, users would see faster speeds in more locations starting in 2015. As more and more people continue to adopt smartphones and tablets, the need for public Wi-Fi and increased service to handle the amount of devices being used will increase.
What does this mean for businesses? Internet and cell phone usage isn’t going anywhere, and its growth is so unquestionable that even the government is proactivity working to improve wireless policy. Consumers are becoming more dependent on wireless and mobile devices and businesses large and small should take note. There’s still two years before there will be any noticeable change in wireless speeds, which should give marketers enough time to consider mobile marketing campaigns and improve their mobile online presence.
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