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First Super Wi-Fi opens door for poor communities

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When the television broadcasters finally gave up their analog stations after transitioning to digital, the Federal Communications Commission opened up the field for those new “white” spaces to be used creatively. White space is unused spectrum that sits between TV channels. The 300MHz to 400MHz of unused spectrum is considered prime spectrum for offering wireless broadband services because it can travel long distances and penetrate through walls.

A nonprofit in Houston snatched up the opportunity and has become the first to offer Super Wi-fi in a city!

Normal WiFi signals use a portion of the spectrum in which wavelengths are much shorter, and therefore not good at penetrating through trees or walls.

The new spectrum from the broadcasters permit WiFi signals at longer wavelengths, which are much better at penetrating natural and man-made barriers.

The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday about the partnership between Rice University, which provided the technology, and Technology For All, a Houston nonprofit that provides free wireless Internet access to low-income households in a three-square-mile area in east Houston.

With money from the National Science Foundation, Edward Knightly, a computer engineer at Rice, was able to build prototype equipment this winter and create Houston’s first super WiFi hot spot a few weeks ago.

The success of this super Wi-Fi spot can mean a lot for those in rural areas and urban areas who cannot afford broadband access.  Of course, there remains the challenge of shared facilities and the possibility of slowed performance and other quality of service concerns. Notwithstanding, this is a huge door opener.

It will be interesting to see what happens if more of these super-Wi-fi are built, what, if any, would be the consequence, outcome or impact on broadband prices.  Certainly, even those who can afford broadband but are struggling to pay high bills will opt for shared and FREE access!

We all know competition is a wonderful thing for bringing prices down! Wowwee! I can’t wait!

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