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First white space wireless goes live in Houston

updated 07:15 pm EDT, Wed April 20, 2011

White space wireless already in live testing

Rice University had the distinction of being the first to implement the recently cleared white space wireless in real-world conditions. Houston restaurant worker Leticia Aguirre has been given a prototype connection that for the first time has given her a reliable Internet link in her area. The addition was part of a larger rollout that would give about 3,000 East Houston locals the long-range wireless access.

She had been part of an earlier experiment for mesh-based, "multihop" Wi-Fi but, on the fringe of the network, didn't have a stable link. The new method can still be reached through Wi-Fi but uses the now vacant UHF airwaves to make the connection, shifting on the fly between UHF and Wi-Fi to get online.

The project was helped by the non-profit group Technology For All and had the FCC's blessing.

White space wireless has been unofficially badged "super Wi-Fi" for its long-range but unlicensed wireless. Most have seen it as an opportunity for connections like Aguirre's, where the wireless could be used to supply Internet access from an Internet provider to a neighborhood rather than having to wire each individual house. Also likely are personal routers whose range could go well beyond the home as well as niche uses like smart power grids.

Although the FCC mandated clearing the unused frequencies, the database of free bands is being privately managed by Google and several other companies. [via PCWorld]

by MacNN Staff



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