Saturday, June 30, 2012

USA - AIR.U to bring white spaces wireless to rural colleges and universities

Google and Microsoft are to bring "super" Wi-Fi to campuses in rural USA according to ExtremeTech. AIR.U, hopes to bring between 20 to 100Mbps of wireless bandwidth to rural educational institutions, which will then provide internet access to local communities.
Super Wi-Fi (a term coined by the FCC and strongly frowned upon by the official Wi-Fi Alliance because it isn’t Wi-Fi), or IEEE 802.22 as it’s technically known, uses the TV channel frequencies that were originally used by analog TV, but which were freed up by the digital switchover in 2009. These channels — 6MHz blocks in the VHF and UHF ranges (54-698MHz) — are capable of carrying up to 20Mbps over a distance of 18 miles (30km). Multiple channels can be banded together to create faster links.

The reason 802.22 white space connectivity is so desirable is because low-frequency signals (such as 54MHz VHF) can travel very long distances, bend around mountains, and pass through obstacles. These low-frequency signals are the reason that single, huge TV transmitters can broadcast a signal to millions of homes — and why higher-frequency services, such as cellular radio, require broadcast towers every few miles.

Moving forward, the AIR.U (it’s the world’s most banal acronym, by the way: Advanced Internet Regions) consortium plans to start rolling out some pilot Super Wi-Fi networks in 2013, as and when white space networking equipment becomes widely available. Once the wireless links have been made to universities and colleges, a wired network or normal WiFi can be used to provide internet access to the rest of the community.

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