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Microsoft WhiteFi: Next-Gen Wi-Fi Standard?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

You can browse for miles and miles and miles.

While most of us are still tinkering with our home networks, perhaps slowly upgrading our machines and equipment to 802.11n draft hardware, researchers at Microsoft and HarvardUniversity are exploring a new type of Wi-Fi thinking.

Instead of operating at the same (or near) frequency range of existing Wi-Fi signals, Microsoft has been testing the transmission of signals over "whitespaces," which is part of the radio spectrum that was formerly used by analog television stations.

Microsoft has published a paper that explains networking over UHF white spaces and how it differs from conventional Wi-Fi in spatial variation, temporal variation, and fragmentation of the UHF spectrum.

Dubbed "WhiteFi," the researchers explain that the method "incorporates a new adaptive spectrum assignment algorithm to handle spectrum variation and fragmentation, and proposes a low overhead protocol to handle temporal variation.

Using a technique called SIFT, which the researchers say "reduces the time to detect transmissions in variable channel width systems by analyzing raw signals in the time domain."

Basically, should this technology prove viable, we could be measuring Wi-Fi signal range in miles rather than in feet. You can read the paper here (PDF) or more technical summary of it at Dailywireless.

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  • 0 Hide
    AMDnoob , August 19, 2009 11:17 PM
    does it have good penetration (dont say thts wht she said), cause my wifi has to go through a good half dozen 100 year old thick wooden walls. although i guess we got analog tv before so i would think tht would prove its worthiness. my 802.11g is a reallll stretch where i am.
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2009 11:25 PM
    @AMDnoob

    That's what she said! LOL!!!!
  • 5 Hide
    marokero , August 19, 2009 11:35 PM
    Would WhiteFi work at all in countries that still use the UHF band to transmit tv signals? There would be a lot of interference I assume.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2009 11:35 PM
    Microsoft has lost it's position as a standard creator, IEEE and the Linux Foundation, and other Open Source Consortiums have pretty much knocked them off that throne. MS execs always decide that they have to close-source/cock-block atleast some part of any standard, not much of anything they do is truly open...
  • -1 Hide
    matt87_50 , August 19, 2009 11:43 PM
    yeah, as far as wifi specs go, bandwidth is at the bottom of the list for me at the moment:
    latency,
    CONSISTENCY of bandwidth,
    penetration,
    range (makes wifi hotspot blanketing more realistic),
    then bandwidth.
  • 0 Hide
    Regulas , August 19, 2009 11:46 PM
    Neat but would you want your home network to be able to broadcast that far?
    And it should be open source code, if the convicted monopolist MS is involved they will screw it up for cash in their pockets somehow.
    Maybe for specific purposes but not a good idea for all WiFi situations.
    I know some cities were trying to get city wide WiFi, this would fit that bill nicely. But since I am paranoid when it comes to anything to do with the government I would be wary using anything they offer.
  • 0 Hide
    FSXFan , August 20, 2009 12:24 AM
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Yeah, it would be nice to be able to use my home wireless connection around town (I live in a small town), but I don't think I would want everyone else to be able to try.
  • -1 Hide
    huron , August 20, 2009 12:44 AM
    I understand that they are researching with the space previously occupied by analog television signals. Didn't they have anything else in mind for that part of the spectrum when they transitioned to digital? I have not heard any specifics.
  • -1 Hide
    jgoette , August 20, 2009 1:48 AM
    huronI understand that they are researching with the space previously occupied by analog television signals. Didn't they have anything else in mind for that part of the spectrum when they transitioned to digital? I have not heard any specifics.


    I thought that the government wanted to switch over so that they could auction off that spectrum range... Maybe Microsoft or ISPs will be in on this?
  • -1 Hide
    xaira , August 20, 2009 3:35 AM
    miles rather than feet, microsoft, dont stick!!!
  • -1 Hide
    ravewulf , August 20, 2009 4:13 AM
    Could possibly work as a free slow speed public wireless internet, in sort of the same spirit as the TV signals it would replace
  • 0 Hide
    iquark , August 20, 2009 4:13 AM
    The problem I see is that it takes much higher power to output the lower UHF frequencies than the microwave UHF frequencies. This would be fine for something like city wide Wi-fi, but for home use it doesn't seem cost effective due to energy usage.

    Also, wouldn't White-fi antennas have to be a bit longer due to change in length of the ~500Mhz frequency. It's about 12cm for a full 2.4ghz wavelength antenna vs 15cm for a quarter length 500Mhz antenna. This could cause problems with component space considerations.

    Sounds interesting though, at least you know there's plenty of throwaway money with microsoft behind it!
  • 0 Hide
    bmxmon , August 20, 2009 10:12 AM
    It would work pretty sweet for in-vehicle infotainment type of deal.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 20, 2009 11:18 AM
    It would be great if a 'Green-WiFi' would finally be introduced.
  • 1 Hide
    dwhapham , August 20, 2009 12:28 PM
    ravewulfCould possibly work as a free slow speed public wireless internet, in sort of the same spirit as the TV signals it would replace


    TCP/IP requires 2 way communication to work my friend...
  • -1 Hide
    safcmanfr , August 20, 2009 12:56 PM
    dwhaphamTCP/IP requires 2 way communication to work my friend...



    but if one wifi hot spot was 1 mile in radius...... Bring in a fibre optic connection to the transmitter and bingo, one good public access spot. all the small villages could get decent connections.

    or, internet connection via this could eventually replace the need for telephone lines. fiber optic connection point, each ISP have their own white-fi broadcaster/receiver and you pay for your access (password) to said network.

    yeah yeah, so u need a box at your house that communicates 2-way with the ISP transmitter. but why wouldnt that be possible?

    anything to get rid of the copper wire i say.
  • -1 Hide
    zak_mckraken , August 20, 2009 1:21 PM
    xamlIt would be great if a 'Green-WiFi' would finally be introduced.


    1000 bucks the FCC won't allow it!
  • -1 Hide
    cimtaurus , August 20, 2009 1:56 PM
    safcmanfrbut if one wifi hot spot was 1 mile in radius...... Bring in a fibre optic connection to the transmitter and bingo, one good public access spot. all the small villages could get decent connections. or, internet connection via this could eventually replace the need for telephone lines. fiber optic connection point, each ISP have their own white-fi broadcaster/receiver and you pay for your access (password) to said network. yeah yeah, so u need a box at your house that communicates 2-way with the ISP transmitter. but why wouldnt that be possible? anything to get rid of the copper wire i say.


    But would you have a transmitter on your laptop? No I don't think.

    This whole idea is great to augment the existing wireless networks we have access to, but it cannot replace a wireless home network. I can see this as the connection from the home/hotspot to the provider, but everything local would still be a/b/g/n/x. The battery consumption to transmit this signal even within a single house would make it impractical for laptops and other mobile devices.
  • -1 Hide
    rockstar7600 , August 20, 2009 2:02 PM
    To: marokero 08/20/2009 1:35 AM

    I could see the same thing. Using the same signals as the TV uses is something many countries have not stopped using (the TV broadcasted to antenna to TV), so basically the US will get its piece of the pie first, then the rest of the world.
  • -1 Hide
    shabaa , August 20, 2009 3:30 PM
    If it is done by Micro$oft then expect bugs in it and in a few years when the bugs are ironed out they will release a "new and improved" networking type and the upgrade will cost more... and it will be buggy as well until the next release.....and so on..(just a snapshot of the business model)
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