--Whattaya mean, "it's not that free?" Whattaya mean, "They have to take that space in the RF spectrum from somebody else?"
As the above-linked Atlantic Wire piece notes, the White House push to hand you broadband free for nothing on the streetcorners, exactly as they now dole out air,* has a teensy li'l problem: they need 500 MHz of bandwidth to do it and the radiofrequency spectrum is a zero-sum game. How big a chunk is this? If they started from DC, 500 MHz would run up past the whole AM band, all the shortwave bands, all of FM and aircraft radio, take TV channels 2 through 13 and keep on for another 230-odd MHz, wiping out the Family Radio Service Band (462 - 468MHz, roughly) before the grab stops. All of it, gone.
Of course, that's not how they'll do it; most of those frequencies are lousy for hooking your laptop up to Teh Innerwebz, so you can keep 'em. But UHF television, now, that's another story! Heck, there's nothing up there but that horrible over-the-air TV and you can get that stuff on cable. Or satellite. Or from The Phone Company--
That's right. To get you that "free" wireless (you'll still probably have to pay somebody), Uncle Sugar will be taking away some of the free TV you already have. Oh, not entirely; they want to take those sparkly-shiny super clear High-Definition TV pictures (the one you bought a new TV to see) and smash them back down to what's called "standard-definition," like old-time TV with a hint of YouTube, then spit out several channels in a slice of RF the same size as one full HD channel: the same lousy TV you had before the analog shut-down, only now on a great big screen so every flaw is that much bigger! Hooray!
...And which stations will be doing this? Hint: FCC is offering Big! Cash! Rewards! Your local high-dollar network affiliates, they don't need the bucks. But the little independent stations, the guys that run old movies and oddball syndicated shows? Times is, as they say, tough. Your local PBS station may want some more green from the Fed'ral trough, too; you didn't want to see Nova in HD anyway, right?
...Oh, and meanwhile? It turns out 98 percent of the population in the States are already in the coverage area for wireless broadband service.
Government: It giveth what you already have and taketh away what you already enjoy. And gets even that wrong.
* What? The .gov doesn't provide that service? Oooooo, I'm gonna hafta write Maxine Waters and Bernie Saunders about that right now!
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago