FCC moving forward with “super Wi-Fi” proposal
* By: Aemon Malone •
* January 31, 2011
A handful of companies, including Google, have been selected to help test the unused TV frequencies known as white spaces, marking a step towards "a world with super Wi-Fi."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week unveiled a list of nine companies selected to manage databases that will contain information about the availability of white spaces, unused TV frequencies with wireless broadband potential. In September, the FCC approved a proposal for using white spaces to bring about the next generation of Wi-Fi, or “super Wi-Fi” as its frequently called.
Google, a longtime advocate of re-purposing white spaces for Wi-Fi, was among the companies selected by the FCC. “Just last fall the Commission adopted final technical rules on white spaces – the unused, public airwaves that we believe will lead to the next generation of wireless technologies,” Larry Alder, business operations principal at Google, wrote in a blog post. “Today we’re one step closer to a world with ‘super Wi-Fi’”
Before companies can begin to make use of white spaces, the airwaves need to be tested to ensure there’s no interference from other wireless signals — a common concern cited by groups opposed to using white spaces. If tests prove white spaces are viable, the airwaves could be used to broadcast a “super Wi-Fi” network with better bandwidth and an extended range — up to 50 miles per access point.
There are several potential uses of white space, including the not-so-modest proposal of using the airwaves to form a nationwide Wi-Fi network. Another possible application of “super Wi-Fi” is using the broadband spectrum to help wireless providers overburdened by smartphone data traffic — AT&T and its iPhone woes, for example.