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Canada considers adopting Super Wi-Fi north of the border

Source: The Right Click

Written By: Chase Kell

Tech savvy Canadians may have only read about Super Wi-Fi, but if all goes well, the wireless Internet connection with a range spanning up to 100 kilometres may soon be coming north of the border.

Approved for use in the U.S., Super Wi-Fi is being carefully considered in Canada as demand for such a wireless connection continues to grow.

“We have already received a number of queries on this subject,” said Industry Canada spokesperson Michel Cimpaye in a New Brunswick Business Journal story.

Where was this in my university days, when a poor Internet connection had me parked outside the neighbouring building as I poached their high-speed connection?

Super Wi-Fi is a very strong signal that can transmit through concrete structures while providing speeds of up to 22 megabits per second (up to par with speeds offered by Canada’s leading service providers).

Also referred to as the Wireless Regional Area Network, it functions using unused spectrum (or white space) left by television stations that used to transmit analog signals.

Before the digital signal became the television standard, broadcasters required a “buffer zone” in between each channel in order to prevent interference, explains Ryerson University’s Gregory Taylor. With the decline of the analog broadcasting era, those buffer zones will soon be “freed up” in major urban areas at the end of August.

Some of the available spectrum will be purposed for cellular signals and auctioned off to telecommunications companies, but as Taylor explains, a good portion will remain unlicensed.

Countries approved the use of unlicensed spectrum for the first time in the late 1980s, spawning the development of communication tools such as baby monitors, Bluetooth and eventually Wi-Fi.

“The previous unlicensed spectrum was very limited on what it could do,” said Taylor in the story. “(Super Wi-Fi) will go much further. It will be possible to cover an entire town or region wirelessly.”

But as Taylor explains, telecommunications companies have grown concerned with the competitive repercussions as Super Wi-Fi all but eliminates an Internet provider’s most profitable service – physically connecting a house or apartment to a network using wires and cables.

Still in its infancy, Super Wi-Fi was approved only last month by the IEEE, an international party that governs such technological issues.

But as the demand and the hype continues to grow, Taylor expects an onslaught of applications to be developed in the near future, a premonition that has him urging the Canadian government to make a firm ruling on how the available spectrum will be used.

“We’re stifling development here at this point,” said Taylor. “We know this technology exists, but it’s been slowed down by an ineffective digital television transitions and a government that hasn’t taken a leadership role.”

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