Cast for two

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wifi on steriods in the USA

While all news is currently alloted to the presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama, on Tuesday 4 November another important vote was casted. The American regulator of the airwaves, FCC (Federal Communications Commission), voted 5-0 for the use of the white spaces between the television channels. Current wifi equipment makes use of the 2,4 GHz band (or the 5GHz band for more modern equipment supporting 802.11a/n, for example Apple Airport Basestation Extreme). The new vote of the FCC means that new wifi equipment will be able to use the unused white space between the channels alloted to TV. Why is this important ? The reason is that the TV spectrum has better characteristics for in home use. The UHF band, used for televison distribution, spans from 300MHz upto 3GHz. Lower frequencies have larger wavelength. Therefore they propagate better trough walls and other obstacles typically encountered in urban environments. It boils down that using the white space frequencies will lower the cost for providing ubiquitous wireless networks. Hopefully we will see more wide area wifi networks that provide free or cheap internet access in the near future.

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