08/04

New Wi-Fi has a range of 62 miles. Yes, really.

Once upon a time Wi-FI could barely reach from one end of your house to the other.

Pundits scoffed at the idea that the Internet could ever live in cars since traveling down the road meant an endless succession of somebody else’s (closed) Wi-Fi networks.

Then folks realized that you could bring the Internet into the car with you, thanks to the 3G (or better) device in your pocket that you also occasionally used for making calls.

Yeah, they said, but that’s clunky and awkward and only on its way to becoming universal.  True enough.

And then, one day, a new Wi-Fi standard was approved, thanks to the spectrum opened by the digital transformation of TV.  And that new Wi-Fi could do a little better than reach from one end of your house to the other:  62 miles in all directions better, in fact.

Yes, the just-released new Wi-Fi standard has a total range of 12,000 square miles – from a single base station.

Do you think this will affect radio, Mr. Broadcaster?  What about you, Mr. NAB?

Reports DVICE:

Now that the official standard has been approved, companies can go start building things that incorporate 802.22 technology, so it’s really just a matter of time before none of us are without Wi-Fi access ever again. Phew.

Conceivably, this could mean that all wireless devices are built for Wi-Fi, given a range and reliability that looks suspiciously like what we used to call “broadcast radio.”  Does that mean goodbye cellular?  Maybe.  Who needs it when your Wi-Fi has the same coverage as the TV station that used to occupy that same frequency?

But what it certainly will mean is that the exclusivity rendered by broadcast signals will cease to exist. And broadcasters will win or lose not on the basis of owning all the audio real estate but by providing the best content in the best forms that the most consumers want to seek out and consume.

As is usual in technology prognostication, this may not play out quite the way it seems (remember Wi-Max?).  But one thing is clear:  Consumer demand is pushing us towards better, faster, more universal, easier, more accessible wireless access.  And that will have consequences for radio.

None of this will happen right away, obviously.  It will take years.  But what will it mean when every alternative to radio has the same potential ubiquity as radio enjoys?

It will mean that radio has to be really, really good.

And really, really more than “radio.”

* = required field
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  • Captain Spuds

    Whoa, hey, that means digital radio can now sync with the internet just like my smart phone does. Silly me, do I really need another device, when my smart phone does all that and more. Plus, it does everything, and more!

  • R M

    Although Mark has been correct and thought provoking on many subjects, he screwed the pooch on this one. He was correct quoting the underlying source as to the material he used to reference this post, unfortunately the underlying material was wrong, as too often the case with articles on the internet. In fact the underlying source of the source Mark quoted helps spell this out.

    First, according to “true source” press release

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110726007223/en/IEEE-802.22TM-2011-Standard-Wireless-Regional-Area-Networks

    “This technology is especially useful for serving less densely populated areas, such as rural areas, and developing countries where most vacant TV channels can be found.”

    LESS DENSLEY POPULATED AREAS, SUCH AS RURAL AREAS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

    And then a map is shown of a 62 mile radius of San Francisco…..ROFLMAO. Does that meet the above requirements?

    Furthermore, Mark states (using the error in his source) this is made possbile by the frequencies opened up when TV made the move to Digital ATSC in 2009. Sorry, but that is 100% INCORRECT as well. That spectrum has already been sold to 3rd parties including Qualcomm, Echostar and others.

    What they are actually referencing is the area in the current TV band IN BETWEEN CO-LOCATED  channels. For example, lets use the old channel designations, Channel 7 / WABC-TV in NY as well as WJLA-TV Channel 7 in DC. Yes, these stations no longer use VHF-High NTSC Channel 7, but for example and reference only, NY and DC are slightly less than 200 miles apart. What this article is stating is that somewhere half way between NY and DC in the “white areas” between the two, this device would “know that” and allow that device to use that frequency up to the theoritical 62 miles. However, lets not forget there was a Channel 7 located to the West that comes into play as well.

    Ramsey further asks “”Do you think this will affect radio, Mr. Broadcaster? What about you, Mr. NAB?”
    Actually, Mr. Broadcaster and Mr. NAB know this will affect TV as these devices fire up and start causing interference issues with current ATSC TV Stations, so they are fighting it in an all out battle.

    Radio knows the problems “pirates” and LPFM cause, especially with Digital Radio. Imagine that issue multiplied to every house and office in America for TV. That’s why TV and the NAB are fighting this tooth and nail.

    Bottom line. There are no really open “white spaces” in the UHF band (where this technology is supposed to be located) in the Northeast Corridor as well as California (where the 62 mile radius map in the Ramsey’s blog was shown). In fact, ABC/Disney’s Channel 6 in Philadelphia wanted to move to a UHF Channel, BUT NONE ARE OPEN as everything has a Broadcaster on it.

    Its even tight in other East Coast areas. Yes, this could work in Kansas, the Dakotas and Wyoming for example (just as the original source states), but it is not reality for true populated areas of the USA.

    BTW, do you know the power output and tower height needed to get a signal out 62 miles on a UHF Frequency? Remember UHF is essentially line of sight. And you need a return path from your device as well. How many houses will put up towers 10x higher or more than their house when they do not even want a TV Antenna on the house? Do you think HOA’s would have issue 50+ foot towers on houses? Still thinking this is the threat expressed in Ramsey’s blog?

    Bottom line, no Broadcaster should want unlicensed transmitters capable of broadcasting on their frequency in every house and office in America, no matter what the intended use.

    Will people have higher speed internet available to them regardless of location in the future? 100% yes. Will it be provided by 802.22 WIFI? If your answer to this is yes, you need to re-read the above again.

  • So, if you’re correct (and I don’t know that you are), you agree with my conclusion but not my path to it based on the reports I read.

  • R M

    Your conclusion “New Wi-Fi has a range of 62 miles. Yes, really.” ?

    No, I do not agree with that. FCC has approved Wireless Microphones with 4 watts max output to use the “white space” between existing TV stations, not the frequencies vacated by the ATSC move in 2009 and already sold via auction to other Companies for their use mistakenly referenced in your blog.

    4 Watts in UHF does not travel 62 miles…..not even close.

  • R M

    Your conclusion “New Wi-Fi has a range of 62 miles. Yes, really.” ?

    No, I do not agree with that. FCC has approved Wireless Microphones with 4 watts max output to use the “white space” between existing TV stations, not the frequencies vacated by the ATSC move in 2009 and already sold via auction to other Companies for their use mistakenly referenced in your blog.

    4 Watts in UHF does not travel 62 miles…..not even close.

  • Jim

    Mark, you leave out a big part of the equation: FREE radio – NOT Free Internet. You may have wi-fi someday that covers a vast area, but it will not be free and it will have some kind of bandwidth limits as we are seeing with cell phone contracts. It is true that radio needs to up it’s game, but it does still hold a big advantage over internet delivered programming that is not, and will not be in the future, free at the touch of a button.

  • Jim

    Mark, you leave out a big part of the equation: FREE radio – NOT Free Internet. You may have wi-fi someday that covers a vast area, but it will not be free and it will have some kind of bandwidth limits as we are seeing with cell phone contracts. It is true that radio needs to up it’s game, but it does still hold a big advantage over internet delivered programming that is not, and will not be in the future, free at the touch of a button.

  • The conclusion comes at the end of the post.

    Mark Ramsey

  • The conclusion comes at the end of the post.

    Mark Ramsey

  • Yes but…. When you are paying for bandwidth because you need it for something else then the incremental cost of online radio is “free”
    Mark Ramsey

  • Yes but…. When you are paying for bandwidth because you need it for something else then the incremental cost of online radio is “free”
    Mark Ramsey

  • I am absolutely annoyed with the people who scoff at what’s going to happen with radio very shortly. The simple truth is there are so many options that open up each and everyday that it is difficult for radio the traditional way to compete. Whether using Digital, Online, Mobile whatever. We have got to grow beyond what we are today. The point is “radio has to be really, really good.And really, really more than “radio.” 
    Nuff said.

  • I am absolutely annoyed with the people who scoff at what’s going to happen with radio very shortly. The simple truth is there are so many options that open up each and everyday that it is difficult for radio the traditional way to compete. Whether using Digital, Online, Mobile whatever. We have got to grow beyond what we are today. The point is “radio has to be really, really good.And really, really more than “radio.” 
    Nuff said.

  • I am tired of hearing the whiners who just don’t get it. But hey Mark, one day they will. As you rightly stated, “radio has to be really, really good.And really, really more than “radio.”
    That hits the nail on the head. The competition is here and it will be even greater in the not too distant future. Doesn’t matter if radio is in Digital Bcasts, Streaming, Mobile. The platform isn’t the greatest issue, What’s on it is. And it’s obvious that the NAB don’t get it. I have radio on my phone. Do i even use it? No, and i am in radio. We need to get real.

  • I am tired of hearing the whiners who just don’t get it. But hey Mark, one day they will. As you rightly stated, “radio has to be really, really good.And really, really more than “radio.”
    That hits the nail on the head. The competition is here and it will be even greater in the not too distant future. Doesn’t matter if radio is in Digital Bcasts, Streaming, Mobile. The platform isn’t the greatest issue, What’s on it is. And it’s obvious that the NAB don’t get it. I have radio on my phone. Do i even use it? No, and i am in radio. We need to get real.

  • Thank you, yes, Gairy.

    And that is, indeed, the point.

  • Thank you, yes, Gairy.

    And that is, indeed, the point.

  • I am really amazed at the number of people who tell me “I have it on my phone” in a world where we seem to act like NOBODY does.

    The issue isn’t having it or not. The issue is caring that we do.

    Thanks Gairy!

  • I am really amazed at the number of people who tell me “I have it on my phone” in a world where we seem to act like NOBODY does.

    The issue isn’t having it or not. The issue is caring that we do.

    Thanks Gairy!

  • From the beginning, the objective has been universal access. We can argue ’till the cows come from about the how and when, but it IS coming and SOONER than too many expect.
    With all due respect to RM, I don’t believe Mark screwed the pooch here. He is doing what he does best, trying to help broadcasters with the right stuff beat the ‘demon in the sky’ and successfully launch into cyberspace. Every broadcast executive should have a wall plaque made of this statement: In the Digital Age, radio has be really, really good. And really, really more than “radio.”

  • Thanks Gordon!

  • Mike Nassour

    Ummmm…..would someone explain how my $599 Dell laptop is supposed to transmit the 62 miles BACK TO the access point?

  • Anonymous

    Based on the whitepaper outlining the technology [http://ecee.colorado.edu/~ecen4242/802_22/general_info.html], I don’t see this as a viable method of providing internet connectivity to a moving vehicle.

  • I’m not an engineer, so I can’t assess that. I am reporting third party perspectives, but I can tell you there are much better links than that one.

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  • Martin

    This is cool indeed Mark. Am new in this area of modern technology but am really impressed with your discovery. Meanwhile recommend for me a wifi radio with a coverage of 5km radias. Would need contacts and may indeed want to buy it so that I connect it to my modem for possible broadcast within that range.

  • Valent Turkovic

    Are there any examples or this being implemented anywhere in the world? Are there any equipment manufacturers offering 802.22 gear?

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  • Anybody know?

  • jjraden

    62 miles sounds very precise but it’s actually 100 kilometers, which sounds much more like a rough estimate. I’m guessing, therefore, that 62 is misleadingly precise. It’s probably more accurate to say “up to 100 kilometers” or “roughly 100 kilometers.” Translated the vagueness into miles it would be more accurate to say “about 60 miles.” And in practice I’m sure it will often be less.

    In science and engineering, this is an example of the different between precision versus accuracy. Journalists not trained in science misunderstand the distinction a lot. For
    example, a journalist might take a figure like 2,000 kilometers and then translate it into miles as 1243 miles, which sounds like a exact, scientifically precise figure when the original figure is actually just some back-of-the-envelope, seat-of-the-pants, half-assed guestimate.

  • Edward

    Nobody on this thread knows what they are talking about, especially RM and Mark.

    You cannot compare this stuff to WiFi other than they are both wireless and you can carry data over it. That’s where the similarity ends. So stop talking about long range WiFi!

    This tech works, but it doesn’t provide WiFi as you know it to your laptop. It gets broadband from tower-to-house (point to multipoint) that are 3-15 miles away in rural areas that have no other option and cannot be served by 2.4 and 5.8 GHz line-of-site WISPS due to trees or terrain that blocks higher frequencies. You then need a receiver/radio, directional antenna and radio that is fixed to your house that provides you an Ethernet link that you can use – you then link that up to your traditional home router. Beyond 7 miles, the signal to noise ratio is not good enough for much usable bandwidth. Where you can use/deploy this gear will require licenses (permission) by region so you don’t move a transmitter into an area that existing use (TV/low power TV) of these frequencies. The FCC will clobber you if you do this.

    The bandwidth for a given sector (base station/access point/tower) is shared with 8-12 other customers per “sector” – and sectors cover a larger area. This is a NON LINE OF SITE application (spectrum below 1 GHz works increasingly well for this, that’s what makes this spectrum so valuable), and thus provides an option for rural and terrain challenged customers. If you have a line-of-site to a customer from a tower, you would not waste it on this because you would reserve it for those who have no other option. You would instead use a 5.8 GHz unlicensed link, but carrier grade TDMA solution from someone like Ubiquiti, Cambium, etc – and achieve bandwidths far higher and with far more density. So figure 10-20 customers in a 7 mile radius (25 square miles). That’s low density/rural. The signals cannot be reused in small sectors
    like higher frequency (microwave) cellular, LTE, etc.

    To provide a reliable 62 mile one-way signal using TV spectrum, you need 50,000 – 300,000 watts of power on a very tall tower or mountain in an omni-directional or wide area pattern. But you can also get 62 miles between two points if you use a point-to-point antenna (dish) that focuses the energy like laser in both directions with as little as ½ a watt. The concept is similar to a laser – a .004 watt laser can be seen 25 miles away because the energy is directed and focused. But using this spectrum for point-to-point is not practical and useless, and the FCC will never license these frequencies for P2P use – so you can just forget about this 62mile/100km range thing – it’s more like 3-15 miles in the shrubs. Some marketing will claim more but that’s the practical limit. If you don’t need broadband (low speed gear for other applications like meters and sensors) you can go father.

    The interference with adjacent LPTV issue is a concern (and often a false argument made to argue against it for corporations who don’t want any change), but it is solved and it works. It requires “filtering” mechanisms that keep these products from “bleeding” into nearby channels – these filters come in two flavors – physical (these are expensive) and digital trickery (new tech) that does the same thing using some fancy RF games in the chipset. The chipset version is bringing down the cost, but unit prices for this gear are low and this keeps the gear expensive for this application.

    There are working products out there now that can do this. Google Carlson or Redline TVWS. Carlson is the market leader.

  • Thanks for the information, Edward, but I don’t think it’s necessary to open your discussion with a slam, particularly since you have not provided any information to support your own identity or credibility.

  • Edward

    Suit yourself. Spend 2 minutes doing some basic research and you will find I’m correct. 62 mile WiFi is just silly and your blog looks silly to anyone who knows anything about this tech.

  • Again, an anonymous comment. Take it up with the source material.

  • Liam Kelly

    Unless my laptop can broadcast back to the access point I do not have a connection.

  • Liam Kelly

    Ding ding ding we have a winner. Broadcast does not require two way communication, wifi does.

  • CJ

    I’m new to this site. I’m a programmer by trade not an engineer. I’ve always believed if I pay for Internet at home I should be able to use that else where in the city, meaning if I’m outside at a park 3 to 5 miles away. You can get your Wifi to transmit that far but getting the laptop to transmit back is another issue. There are projects I’ve researched and one in particular is http://rpi900.com/ . This is exactly what I’m looking for. Why should I pay for a device like CLEAR (who is out of business or an additional Hotspot when I can access my wifi and any devices connected to it. Please let me know if anyome has used this type of technology. I plan on building this (after more research) for my personal hotspot.

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