Google, Microsoft team up to bring Super Wi-Fi to rural USA
Google, Microsoft and more than 500 rural US colleges, universities, and public interest groups have joined forces to finally solve the issue of rural internet connectivity — using Super Wi-Fi on the white space spectrum. This initiative, called AIR.U, hopes to bring between 20 and 100Mbps of wireless connectivity 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.
The flip side to bringing broadband to the boonies, of course, is that rural communities will cancel their dial-up subscriptions in droves. With 40% of its income still stemming from its dial-up business, what will AOL do?!
Photo Credit: (extremetech.com)