Companies are looking at how they can develop a "Super Wi-Fi" capable of providing coverage over a number of kilometres so that lower density areas can still be covered by high speed Internet access.
In the United States, a major Wi-Fi revolution has been gathering steam for the last few years.
After having been deployed in Houston, Texas last year and Wilmington, North Carolina this year, the wireless technology should be tested by Google and Microsoft next year on campuses that are situated in rural zones.
This improvement to the Wi-Fi standard, known as "super Wi-Fi" uses unused television frequencies known as "white spaces", with this made possible following the FCC opening this up in 2010. The frequencies in question travel over long distances, can pass through constructions and are immune to changing weather. It is possible to send wireless signals over 160 kilometres, compared to the few hundred meters that traditional Wi-Fi provides.
While this range will be limited for management purposes, it will allow for high speed Internet coverage to be provided to rural zones. This idea is being developed for areas where there is low population, with a secondary benefit being that the mobile networks in these areas, often saturated, being freed up from smartphone’s and tablets connecting to the Internet through the mobile network. The deployment of such a technology could therefore kill two birds with one stone.
As the Wi-Fi Alliance has pointed out though, the use of such a technology will require compatible devices, as standard Wi-Fi does not work on these frequencies, making them completely incompatible. The development of this new wireless network technology will therefore require a lot of support from industry for it to get off the ground. It is a very promising technology, but something that the general public won’t be seeing for a number of years yet.