WiFi is an existential threat to telco revenue so they are fighting back in many ways. "5G-for-all presents the opportunity to kill free WiFi and instead charge users for every data packet they send or receive," Colin Johnson reports at EE Times. The implications Johnson heard at an Intel event inspired his title, 5G the Free WiFi Killer. The speakers were Verizon VP Bin Shin, SK Telecom CTO Alex Choi and Ericsson VP Paul McNamara. 

Johnson is on target that eviscerating WiFi is a crucial goal of the giant telcos. I'm not as confident as the author that high-powered, all-encompassing home gateways mean the end of free WiFi  The danger is currently unproven but we certainly need to avert the possibility. The more immediate danger is the telcos want to "Enclose" half or more of the WiFi spectrum. An important Wall Street Journal article by Thomas Gryta and Ryan Knutson has made this a top of mind issue in Washington. They conclude with Harold Feld's comment that Wi-Fi is too important to give carriers the ability to slowly strangle it.

50-70% of wireless traffic now goes over WiFi, a figure that will increase as faster WiFi routers become common and more home gateways are configured to share unused bandwidth. The telcos are working in closed industry fora, making a mockery of the U.S. and EU commitment to an open Internet and the "multi-stakeholder."

At 3GPP, with no public participation, they are defining LTE-U/LAA as "LTE spectrum owners only." The system is designed to dedicate 40 MHz channels of current WiFi spectrum to each of the 4 telcos - or more. The telco proposed standard allows a telco to use more than the single 40 MHz channel.  

We badly need to get a consumer voice in these groups. I've raised the issue to Larry Strickling (U.S. Gov) and Kathy Brown (ISOC). vocal supporters of "multi-stakeholder." The decisions being made in these groups will have more impact on consumers than the limited scope of the ITU/ICANN debate. I'm only one voice and I hope more speak up on the importance of the public interest. 

Much more to come on this story.