What Is Super Wi-Fi and Is It Realistic?

by Aeyne Schriber on April 9, 2012 in Wi-Fi

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently unveiled a new model which is called Super WiFi that supposedly will allow you to access the Internet using a PC or mobile device with wireless capability.  The whole premise behind the concept of Super WiFi is to fill the empty airwaves with a long distance wireless connection to increase wireless connectivity in locations where wireless networks have become congested and to offer WiFi connectivity to those who otherwise have no access.

The empty airwaves are known as white spaces and are airwaves which still remain vacant.  The FCC ruling calls for limited use of Super WiFi in areas that are already populated since the airwaves in these areas are already occupied by the media, local television stations and telephony service providers.

FCC Super WiFi System

The whole concept behind Super WiFi is to make use of the white spaces to provide a way for users to connect to the Internet or otherwise transmit airwaves through an unused location that does not foster interference.  The FCC system involves a database which was recently made available only as a test for efficiency and functionality.  The purpose of the database is to allow wireless users to access the database in order to determine if there are any unused airwaves that they can register to use.

The principle behind this process is to ensure the wireless devices being used do not interfere with media outlets, local TV station, and telephone airwaves.  This process includes any type of wireless device such as a PC or mobile device, wireless microphone, and any other type of device that utilizes airwaves.

Why the Super WiFi Database is Significant

The officials that oversee the FCC Super WiFi database say that it is a significant improvement over more antiquated methods used to regulate airwave usage.  This is because many areas that are licensed by airwave users have sections where the space is not being used by wireless devices.  The problem with this arrangement is there is no incentive on the part of the licensee to allow other people to access the airwave for Internet connectivity and other wireless uses.

Additionally, the largely populated areas contain the highest number of media outlets, local TV stations, and telephone services which does not leave an abundance of white space available for others who wish to share the airwaves.  To protect the TV stations from wireless interference the stronger Super WiFi signals mean that the media and television stations need a larger airwave space in which to operate without disruption.  If the Super WiFi signals are weaker, then this does not pose as much of a threat to the television stations, telephone providers and media outlets.  However, with a specified number of airwave channels available maybe one at the most might be open for long range Super WiFi.  If the spread of Super WiFi is expanded this is not possible due to the decreased availability of white space.  For this reason, many question whether or not the FCC attempt at Super WiFi is actually a reasonable possibility.

Although Super WiFi hints at broader Internet use, if the government decides to expand it this will be much to the dismay of the current public entities that occupy airwaves for communication and television programming.  Super WiFi would enable comprehensive security systems in public venues and the use of RFID chips could help you locate the objects that you lost in addition to other benefits. However, the only way to implement Super WiFi is with a lower rate signal to avoid interferences which may not be realistic with new applications and technologies.

3G and 4G Connectivity vs. Networking in White Spaces

Networking in white spaces also stands to interfere or compete with 3G, 4G and WiMAX connectivity due to the fact it would allow providers of WiFi to transfer  network to a home router if you are located in a rural area.  It is then possible for the network to be transmitted to other devices which would typically use a 3G or 4G connection.  However, this may not be realistic due to the fact you are unable to relocate a device that utilizes a white space since it is necessary to register it with the FCC database.

In reality, networking in white spaces is more ideal for large corporate networks or educational institution campuses where Super WiFi can allow you to cover a bigger area with a single router as opposed to a simple residential WiFi network.  The data transmission speeds will also operate at a slower rate using Super WiFi which really does not make this a viable solution in environments that demand high speed connections for bandwidth-intensive applications such as multimedia, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony, and many other programs that cannot function properly without a high speed connection.  Plus with the inception of 802.11ac products which promise data transmission speeds in excess of 1.3Gbps one should wonder whether or not the concept of Super WiFi is very realistic.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carlson Wireless April 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

We’re also hoping that the spectrum database management model will be one that can apply to more efficient use of all spectrum.

Another significant aspect of this is the propagation characteristics of UHF, ground waves which work their way around obstacles for more efficient deployment in rural areas. Less infrastructure is necessary and a much wider range can be expected.

Many Internet service providers who already use wireless technology to get service into rural regions are watching this technology closely as it will help them grow their businesses and reach more subscribers.

Lesleyanneyp April 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

Actually it can be possible to expand all connection rather than using another frequency. This will insure the safety of second harmonic frequency, it is also possible to provide individual medium in order not to have congestion.

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