AT&T’s T-Mobile acqusition and Free WiFi
The acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T has conjured up various reflections on the state of our Internet and how we will be guaranteed access to it. First, thoughts on the AT&T deal. Neither company holds my favor so no real hope for an improved AT&T. However, this move makes sense for AT&T because the company (and Apple) get over 30 million new customers, as well as valuable wireless spectrum adjacent to spectrum it already owns. Oh yes and AT&T now has a monopoly on GSM technology which probably means more slower 3G connections.
What I am really thinking about is our Internet and the inevitable pervasive wireless access that is being built. What was that, “pervasive wireless access”? What I mean is that it is in the best interests of all for Internet access to be available almost everywhere, sort of the old radio TV model. Now the emerging model is for the cellular carriers to provide this guarantee at least for mobile devices. We would love for our favorite WiFi service to be the model, but that could not happen, or could it?
My fear of a US Internet access controlled by AT&T and Verizon leads me to imagine another option. We need to pay for the Internet and unfortunately the Telco model is to sell us this access. But what if there was a way to fund public or free Internet access. What if we designed an option that provided kickback revenue to the provider of free public access for all e-commerce transactions that originate from their access space? I could see my university deploy WiFi throughout our town knowing that I could cover the bandwidth costs with an e-commerce revenue stream. If this type of system showed potential then the Cable companies could switch to a free model and also be funded by this revenue kickback. This could work.