FCC Says Go for 'Super Wi-Fi' – Wi-Fi on Steroids

Wi-Fi is awesome. Just think of the days before Wi-Fi when you had to be tethered to the wall to get on the internet. For a desktop, it wasn't a big deal, but Wi-Fi has changed the way that we compute on laptops.

Things kicked off with 802.11b, and then Wireless G hit, which remains as today's most widely used standard. Wireless N routers and devices are now the current things on store shelves and will eventually overrun G.

While the gradual evolution is good, what Wi-Fi needs is a full revolutionary upgrade – and that's what is officially called Super Wi-Fi, which the FCC just approved.

The FCC has opened up the spectrum between 50MHz and 700MHz that were previously used for television signals. With TV having gone digital, that space has now been opened up for Super Wi-Fi.

The massive benefit to the spectrum between 50MHz and 700MHz over the currently used 2.4GHz is that the lower frequencies travel better through walls and for further distances. Instead of measuring your router's range in feet, Super Wi-Fi routers will be able to reach for miles. Range is the main benefit, as initial speeds will be at 15Mbps to 20Mbps.

Don't expect to get that sort of range in your personal router just yet though (even though it'd be great to browse on your own connection from the neighbourhood café), as the technology will likely first appear in industrial, corporate, government and medical applications.

Google and Microsoft were two big champions of Super Wi-Fi. Google posted a blog, expressing how pleased it was about the FCC paving the way for "Wi-Fi on Steroids."

Microsoft was also happy. Craig Mundie, the company's chief research and strategy officer, issued this statement to TechFlash:

“With this vote, the Commission is taking a forward-looking view of how to optimize spectrum allocation by capitalizing on evolving technologies. As a result, technology companies will be able to develop new applications that tap into the potential of white spaces networks. On Microsoft’s own campus in Redmond, WA, a prototype ‘White-Fi’ system delivers more economical broadband Internet access for employees traveling between buildings on the campus. The FCC’s decision will create opportunities for American companies to remain at the forefront of technological innovation.”

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • aaron92
    Boo ya!
  • amk09
    This is amazing.

    5-10 years down the road Wi-Fi will be as easy to get as a cellphone signal.
  • RabidFace
    Was only a matter of time before we could access our OWN network
  • otoh, what about the new problem: picking up every router for miles and having to search for yours in the list.

    It would have to be limited. With that said, someone's bound to set up a giant nationwide wifi subscription network where you can access the internet from anywhere without any special cards or devices through your normal wifi connection. As long as they get a handle on dealing with network congestion, I'm all for it.
  • Trueno07
    This would be awesome for universities. Currently they run many many extenders all linked together, but imagine one router at the center of, say, a dorm quad or academic quad of some sort.
  • eklipz330
    this would be great in the city, and in colleges

    but my college is messed up... the students take off the antennae from the back of the computers, so it can't access the internet.. smh
  • thillntn
    This should help mainly rural areas that cannot get anything but dialup :)
  • joex444
    Yeah, just think of how great it would be for a university to put every one of their Wifi clients on the same router and access point.
  • drwho1
    this are great news, in a few years every city (even small cities) will have FREE WIFI for everyone. great news indeed.
  • annymmo
    Overlap danger.