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Microsoft WhiteFi: Next-Gen Wi-Fi Standard?

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.

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.