Super Wi-Fi Name Could be an Issue; Access Clarification

As reported last week, so far there's nothing really "super" about Super Wi-Fi. There are no blazing speeds to make it superior to what we currently have, and at least for now, probably never will.

A network using the Television White Spaces (TWS) frequencies will reportedly provide 15 Mbps at the most, nowhere close to the 54 Mbps peak speed provided by the old and decrepit 802.11g standard. What seemingly makes this technology "super" is the way transmissions can penetrate obstacles and the overall reach. A TWS connection has a stronger punch with a longer reach, but just isn't as fast as its shorter Wi-Fi counterpart.

Now with the nation's first "Super Wi-Fi" network up and running in a small North Carolina town, the Wi-Fi Alliance is worried there may be some consumer confusion. In a statement released on Friday, the group points out that there are no commercial devices on the market that are fully compatible with the new network, nor is there Wi-Fi technology that works correctly in the TWS spectrum. Even more, the term Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, meaning that adding "super" is a definite legal no-no.

"The Wi-Fi Alliance supports efforts to use the unlicensed spectrum known as Television White Spaces to expand connectivity," the group said on Friday. "However, Wi-Fi Alliance cautions that the use of terminology such as 'Super Wi-Fi' or 'Next Generation Wi-Fi' for the Television White Spaces implementations available today will lead to substantial user confusion. Consumers should be aware that recently-announced deployments using terms like 'Super Wi-Fi' are not in fact Wi-Fi."

"It is important that users not be misled into confusing any such technology with Wi-Fi," the group adds.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance trade group says that radios using TWS will probably use a new standard called 802.22 for "regional area network." That said, TWS will seemingly be no more "super" than Wi-Fi on 802.11 (local area network), Bluetooth on 802.15 (personal are network), and WiMAX on 802.16 (metropolitan are network). TWS will be just another part of the networking rainbow, and nothing above.

Right now TWS devices cannot be moved. Instead, they must remain stationary, as they check their location against a database -- one of which was installed and launched last week -- to make sure it's not interfering with a channel being used by a Digital TV signal or a wireless microphone. Personal TWS devices for laptops and tablets are expected to arrive by the end of the year. These will likely be portable hotspot devices with additional Wi-Fi connectivity, and capable of sniffing out clean frequencies as the user moves around.

In our report last week, we were told that connecting to the just-erected "Super Wi-Fi" network using a Wi-Fi device was possible. Since then, we've learned that using a Wi-Fi device directly just isn't possible. Instead, the TWS network is actually used as a backhaul link for separately installed 2.4 and 5 GHz base stations which provides the local Internet connection.

That said, the difficult connection issues had nothing to do with TWS itself but the park's Wi-Fi hotspots. Connection was attempted using the 2.4 GHz band as well -- we didn't even try the less congested 5 GHz avenue. KTS Wireless is responsible for erecting the (well hidden) Agility White Space Radio (AWR) stations, providing the TWS network, promising data rates from 1.5 to 3.1 MB/s (or 12 to 24.8 Mbps).

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  • willard
    Finally, a trademark/copyright case that doesn't leave you with a foul taste in your mouth. Looks like the Wi-Fi Alliance has a perfectly valid argument here, and I'm inclined to agree.

    If it ain't Wi-Fi, don't call it Wi-Fi.
    14
  • phamhlam
    The use of the name Wi-Fi does make it confusing. It should be called something else since it doesn't even work with current wi-fi standards.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • phamhlam
    The use of the name Wi-Fi does make it confusing. It should be called something else since it doesn't even work with current wi-fi standards.
    13
  • willard
    Finally, a trademark/copyright case that doesn't leave you with a foul taste in your mouth. Looks like the Wi-Fi Alliance has a perfectly valid argument here, and I'm inclined to agree.

    If it ain't Wi-Fi, don't call it Wi-Fi.
    14
  • mrmaia
    FINALLY a sue "threat" that makes full sense.

    That said, it makes me sad to see "will reportedly provide 15 Mbps at the most, nowhere close to the 54 Mbps peak speed provided by the old and decrepit 802.11g standard.". Here in Brazil, even 1Mbps is considered very fast for wireless internet.
    9