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January 29, 2013

Google's Wireless Network Tells Us Much About Economic Freedom and Regulation

Last week, Google announced that it was creating a wireless network in an attempt to likely test the ability for people to connect to mobile networks at a much faster rate than 4G.  I was struck by this excerpt:

"Google last week submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission, asking for an experimental license to create an“experimental radio service” with a two-mile radius covering its headquarters."

Google has to ask the federal government for permission to create a two mile wireless network?  Two miles equals roughly 10,000 feet.  What constitutes the minimum range of a wireless network that would not require federal permission to set up?  A personal mobile phone network can easily extend 50 feet and more with future technology.

Digging deeper into the application, there was a contact in regards of who to contact in the event of inquiries:
Last Name: Johnston Title: Counsel for Applicant Phone Number: 202-552-5121 E-Mail Address:
 So, it can easily be deduced that there are regulatory costs associated with this request, and lawyers aren't cheap.  This begs the question; how have regulations effected the country's internet infrastructure?
According to an article on Gigaom, the United States ranks 15th in the number of citizens who have broadband access as a percentage of population, 9th in average broadband speed, and 21st out of 33 countries in costs incurred by broadband users for monthly subscriptions.  Among the eight countries ahead of the United States in broadband speed are Latvia and the Czech Republic.

With the regulatory costs associated with such technology ventures, is the federal government making it easier to innovate?  Information technology infrastructure is as important, if not more, than transportation infrastructure.  What if an individual or small business wanted to do what Google is doing?  Could they afford to?  Ultimately, it leads to a new problem.  Big businesses get bigger, oligopolies get stronger, and the consumer gets crushed.

Food for thought, folks.

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