Old TV Signals Could Be Used For Long Range ‘Super Wi-Fi’ Network

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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German researchers say old TV signals should be made available as “common property” for super Wi-Fi networks that can travel for miles

Researchers in Germany say the reassignment of vacant and unused television frequencies as “common property” could relieve pressure on cellular infrastructure by enabling ‘Super Wi-Fi’ networks capable of transmitting a signal over several kilometres.

Currently, Wi-Fi networks use high frequencies of 2GHz or above, with lower bands reserved for other uses, such as Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and mobile networks, due to their longer range and because of fears of congestion.

However Arnd Weber and Jens Elsner of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) believe they have devised a technique that prevents such congestion and suggests that governments should release sub-2GHz frequencies for public use, rather than auctioning them off to mobile operators.

Super Wi-Fi

Wireless broadband, Wi-Fi © 24Novembers, Shutterstock 2012“Implementation of our approach would have far-reaching consequences. Individuals, institutions, and companies would be far less dependent on expensive mobile communications networks in conducting their digital communication,” says Weber. “This would also be of great economic benefit.”

Elsner and Weber acknowledge their suggestion contradicts conventional wisdom that a finite resource like spectrum should be sold so that licence owners are encouraged to use it more efficiently, but say it will bring a range of benefits to both individuals and the economy.

They cite the opening up of the 2.4GHz band used by many wireless routers for other uses, such as Bluetooth, as an example of how such an approach can work. The academics want a chance to present their approach at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), organised by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, which will aim to allocate spectrum at a global level.

The GSMA, which represents the mobile industry, is keen to secure as much as possible for mobile broadband, while broadcasters in the UK have been alarmed by Ofcom’s decision to open up the 700MHz band currently used for DTT for other uses, although the regulator says Freeview viewers will be mostly unaffected.

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