Outgoing FCC Chairman Suggests Private Network Support in Emergency Situations
As the Boston Marathon bombings unfolded, thousands of anxious people in the region pulled out their mobile phones to connect with friends and family—and found that calls couldn’t be placed or received. Rumors that officials had shut down these mobile networks for security reasons weren’t true. The system was simply overloaded at a time when people needed it most.
Many people and companies operate Wi-Fi access points. Each of these points—whether used by apartment roommates, Starbucks patrons, or cell subscribers who get Wi-Fi “off-load” from their service providers—is connected to the Internet and often remains so even if cellular voice and data towers are out or overloaded. These are tremendous potential resource. They could be preconfigured to allow their owners to quickly fling their digital doors wide in times of trouble, channeling a surge of traffic through broadband with a capacity naturally greater than that of cellular networks.
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