Karlsruhe Institute of Technology study proposes free ‘Super Wi-Fi’

Created December 9, 2014
Applications and Research

The growing need for wireless transfer of data will increase significantly in the coming years. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, have therefore proposed adapting certain TV transmission frequencies, due to be freed up, to extend existing Wi-Fi networks instead of using them for mobile communications.

The KIT study, published in Telecommunications Policy journal (weblink: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030859611400086X) recommends that the additional frequencies be made available to the population and companies at no cost.

Wireless data transmission largely takes place via WLAN networks, such as Wi-Fi. However, these networks are currently limited to relatively high frequency ranges at 2GHz and above and, consequently, have a limited physical range.

KIT researchers Arnd Weber and Jens Elsner propose to extend the frequencies for free communication to include lower ranges and increased transmission power. Nowadays, these bands are used less and less for the transmission of TV signals. But they are suitable for penetrating walls and other solid obstacles. Weber and Elsner say such new WLAN networks could deliver communications over several kilometers.

Even in locations where the transmission capacity is limited due to the large number of transmission stations, the range of wireless networks could be extended significantly, they say. The networks could, for example, be made available to passersby on nearby streets for transferring data to and from smart phones.

Weber commented, “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.”

In the 1990s, the opening up of existing WLAN frequencies demonstrated that users and companies often utilized the new opportunities innovatively to develop new products. Examples besides wireless computer networks are wireless loudspeakers and cameras, remote controls for garage doors, transponders, baby monitors, and Bluetooth.

Weber added that a global debate about this approach is necessary because governments could also use the frequencies to extend the range of TV channels or auction them off to mobile telephony providers. Consequently, Weber and Elsner are planning to discuss their approach at the World Radio Communication Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2015. This conference, organized by the United Nations, decides on the use of radio frequencies at the global level.

By Matthew Peach

See also: 
Press release: Study Supports Free “Super WiFi”

Matthew Peach

This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.