Friday, November 07, 2008

The next wifi revolution began last Tuesday

On 1995 the FCC unlicensed the 2.4GHz spectrum, the one used by microwaves ovens and because it was less effective in penetrating walls and furniture was regarded as “junk”. Unlicensing this “junk” opened the door to a revolution – the wifi revolution. Wifi provided unprecedented levels of wireless connectivity and was shortly present at cafes and households all around the world.

Even with the important limitations that the spectrum offers, they were plans to blanquet cities with wifi and companies were started with this purpose – take a look at Meraki or Fon for example – and in some areas a real wifi connection worked ( to put an example of Catalonia).

This Tuesday the FCC unlicensed the unused portion of the spectrum ranging from 512MHz to 698MHz that was assigned to TV and is called the whitespaces. It has been a long battle that Google, HP, Dell, … fought to open these whitespaces and provide more options to users.

Just one day after Dell showed its commitment to provide equipment that uses this space and photos of prototypes were already circulating through Internet. Of course, nowadays radios are software and adjusting radios to a certain frequency is not that complicated.

There is one big difference between 2.4MHz and 2.4GHz, the later cannot pass effectively through walls and furniture and the former can. Also whitespaces allow for higher bandwidth, resulting in the capacity of streaming audio and video and allow for longer distances.

All that is now in the hands of companies and users, unregulated. The equipment needed to make it work is not so different than the one that we are using in wifi, therefore it seems poisoned to unleash innovation and provide effective competition to telcos.

Just think for a second what could have happened if in 1995 this whitespace was the one who was unregulated and not the 2.4GHz …

Just hoping that here in Europe we can have a similar thing…   


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