'Super Wi-Fi' poised for growth in US, elsewhere

Move over Wi-Fi, there's a new wireless technology coming.

So-called "Super Wi-Fi," which offers a bigger range than existing hotspots, is being deployed in the United States and generating interest in a number of countries, including Britain and Brazil.

Super Wi-Fi is not really Wi-Fi because it uses a different frequency and requires specially designed equipment, but it offers some of Wi-Fi's advantages, and more.

The name was coined by the US Federal Communications Commission in 2010, when it approved the deployment of unused broadcast television spectrum, or so-called "white spaces," for wireless broadband.

The long range and use of the broadcast spectrum could allow wireless signals to travel farther than Wi-Fi -- in theory as far as 100 miles (160 kilometers) -- although for practical reasons the range will probably be only a few miles.

Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation, said that is an advantage of using the broadcast spectrum.

"Wi-Fi has been booming, but it has been limited by the frequencies it operates on, which go only a few hundred meters," said Calabrese, who has been pressing for the use of "white spaces" since 2002.

In contrast, "television frequencies travel long distances at low power and penetrate through buildings, trees and bad weather," Calabrese said.

This could provide high-speed Internet to sparsely populated rural areas which lack broadband. It could also allow consumers to create their own hotspots, which could be used on devices while away from their homes.

The first deployment of Super Wi-Fi came last year by Rice University in Houston, Texas, followed by another earlier this year in Wilmington, North Carolina.

A coalition of organizations has announced plans to deploy Super Wi-Fi to college campuses in rural areas starting early next year in a project called AIR.U, backed by Google and Microsoft.

Super Wi-Fi would be on "unlicensed" spectrum, like Wi-Fi, so companies would not bid on exclusive spectrum rights. This can lower costs. And there is often excess capacity, especially in rural areas, where fewer TV stations operate.

Mobile phone companies could use Super Wi-Fi, as they do now with Wi-Fi, to relieve some of the "spectrum crunch" from the explosion of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

But in order for Super Wi-Fi to gain traction, manufacturers of PCs and other devices would have to make chipsets that could operate on both systems.

Dan Lubar of the WhiteSpace Alliance, an association dedicated to new wireless technology, said he sees Super Wi-Fi gaining momentum in the US and other countries with unused broadcast spectrum.

"Everybody understands the value of this spectrum," he said. "It is the biggest swath of spectrum and has the most favorable characteristics."

Chipmaker Texas Instruments recently joined the alliance, suggesting that equipment makers are ready to start making Super Wi-Fi equipment.

"It's definitely going to be here in visible ways by the middle of next year," Lubar said.

Calabrese said that because of a lack of compatible equipment, most of the early Super Wi-Fi deployments are being back converted to regular Wi-Fi signals. At some point soon, he said, people may start using air cards or dongles to capture Super Wi-Fi.

Gerry Purdy, an analyst and consultant with MobileTrax LLC, was more cautious about prospects for Super Wi-Fi, saying it may take several years to gain traction.

"It's a good utilization of spectrum, but I'm more conservative than some people," he said.

"Building chipsets takes times, software standards take time; I don't think people should have false expectations."

The most vocal criticism comes from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which has a trademark on the name Wi-Fi and fears consumers will be confused by incompatible technical norms.

The group said it supports the use of unlicensed spectrum for broadband but that Super Wi-Fi "does not inter-operate with the billions of Wi-Fi devices in use today" and does not "deliver the same user experience as is available in Wi-Fi hotspots and home networks."

Although the name is the most controversial part of Super Wi-Fi, that did not come from the backers of the technology, but from the FCC and chairman Julius Genachowski.

"I wish we had thought of that. We had been calling it Wi-Fi on steroids," said Calabrese.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)
    From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)

    It seemed like a black hole from a Sci-Fi movie," NASA astronaut Terry Virts wrote on Twitter. Virts and his fellow astronauts have been posting pictures of the typhoon, which is expected to hit the Philippines this weekend if it doesn't change course. "Commands respect even from space," wrote Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency who launched into space with Virts in November. As of 11 a.m. EdT today (1500 GMT), the super typhoon was 223 miles (359 km) …

  • Muslim group calls for universal peace
    Muslim group calls for universal peace

    As predominantly Catholic Philippines and the rest of the Christian world observe the Holy Week, peace advocates like the Young Muslim Professionals Network (YMPN) are appealing to Filipinos of various creeds and persuasion to embrace the universal message of kindness, love and peace. The group issued the call as peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front teeter due to the Mamasapano incident where members of the rebel group killed 44 police commandos on a …

  • Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage
    Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage

    A former World Bank official has warned of dire consequences for the Philippines if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not passed into law. Nigel Roberts, former director on conflict, security and development, said that more conflict could occur without the BBL. “It takes about 15 years to get back to pre-conflict GDP growth rates, and 20 years for trade to recover,” Roberts said in his blog at the World Bank website. The World Bank estimated that economic losses amounted to $10 …

  • Despite typhoon, summer is here
    Despite typhoon, summer is here

    Super Typhoon Chedeng roared toward Luzon as the weather bureau announced the official start of summer in the country yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced yesterday the official start of the dry or summer season in the country due to the termination of the cold northeast monsoon. “The general public is advised to take precautionary measures to minimize heat stress and take note of the need in optimizing the daily use of …

  • Noy told: Just answer the questions
    Noy told: Just answer the questions

    Just answer the 20 questions. The Makabayan bloc of seven party-list representatives made this appeal to President Aquino yesterday after his spokesman claimed the Chief Executive has already answered most of the questions posed by the militant lawmakers regarding the Mamasapano incident. For instance, he said the President has not yet explained why he allowed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to take the lead in Oplan Exodus or the mission to …

  • DFA: Malaysia paying rent for Sabah
    DFA: Malaysia paying rent for Sabah

    Malaysia does not acknowledge the Philippine claim over Sabah but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) maintained yesterday that the Malaysian government is paying rent for Sabah, indicating it rightfully belongs to the Philippines. The Malay Mail Online reported that Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia has not and does not acknowledge the Philippine claim over Sabah when asked by media about the reported offer of the Philippine government to downgrade its Sabah …

  • 63 OFWs returning from Yemen
    63 OFWs returning from Yemen

    Sixty-three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are set to return home from war-torn Yemen, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday. Baldoz said the licensed recruiters of the OFWs have assured the government of their immediate repatriation. Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has ordered the recruitment agencies to fulfill their obligation to bring home the OFWs. Baldoz called on Filipinos still in Yemen to avail themselves of the government’s …

  • Jinggoy gets furlough for shoulder checkup
    Jinggoy gets furlough for shoulder checkup

    Despite opposition from ombudsman lawyers, the Sandiganbayan yesterday granted detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s request to undergo a medical checkup at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital. Estrada was allowed to undergo a medical examination for pain in his left shoulder from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The senator was ordered to shoulder the expenses incurred by the Philippine National Police in  escorting him. In a pleading filed Monday with the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division, Estrada’s lawyers …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options