Bits & Bytes: Super Wi-Fi may go public if FCC gets its way
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 4:03 AM
Wi-Fi has been around for years, but the concept still seems a little like magic - instant connections with high-speed Internet data transmitted over the air.
Yet Wi-Fi could be a lot better.
The best Wi-Fi routers have a range of a couple hundred feet at most, and that range can be cut down significantly by walls, hills or other obstacles. Data speeds at the farther ends of that range can take a major hit, so even standing in the wrong corner of a decent-sized Starbucks can give you bad connections.
Wouldn't it be nice if the range of Wi-Fi could be measured in miles instead of feet?
It turns out this technology actually exists. Super Wi-Fi carries roughly the same download speeds as regular Wi-Fi but boasts a much better range.
But there's a problem. Super Wi-Fi gets its impressive range by operating in the 600 MHz spectrum, which is currently allocated to UHF broadcast use by the Federal Communications Commission, which has carefully subdivided all available spectrums to ensure devices don't interfere with one another.
The proposal is in its early stages, but the FCC wants to reallocate the 600 MHz spectrum for public use, which would allow anyone to use super Wi-Fi with no worries.
Getting the proposal passed might take some work. The Washington Post is reporting the wireless industry is lobbying against it, presumably because the technology will allow people to get their Internet fix without having to pay a cellular bill. Google and Microsoft are pushing for it.
And because the gears of government turn slowly, it'll take years for everything to be set up for super Wi-Fi even if the FCC's proposal gets approved.
With a little luck, that day will get here eventually. Rather than having to stand in an awkward corner of a building to check your email, you can just sit down on a park bench.
App of the week: Slacker Radio (Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone)
This streaming music option just got an overhaul and is now a pleasingly streamlined experience. The new look doesn't just mirror the new branding on the Slackers website. It also allows you to pause a song on the website and resume listening to it in the portable app.
The various artist-, genre- and subject-based radio stations are still there, though now with the ability to customize further by making sure stations play your favorite songs or new songs. The "My Music" option allows you to tag favorite songs and create playlists and stations, and "Music Guide" will give you song and music recommendations along with big music news.
Slacker Inc., free (monthly subscription options are available).
Suggest an app for App of the Week at email@example.com
Original Print Headline: Proposal would allow for super Wi-Fi
Google may pay $1B to be default search on iOS
Nowadays it's natural to think of Apple and Google as sworn enemies constantly at each other's throats. But according to a report by Morgan Stanley, Google could willingly give Apple $1 billion.
Analyst Scott Devitt figures the price would get that high for Google to remain the default search engine on iOS. At first glance this sounds like madness, as it's a cinch to use pretty much any search engine you'd like on iDevices.
The reason a pile of cash might change hands for the privilege of being default is because Google is motivated to keep the top search engine crown away from Microsoft and its Bing search engine. Searches generate huge money for Google through ads and sponsored results.
It's hard to make search engines sexy, so many people just use the most convenient option available. Apple is becoming less married to Google products - it's dropped Google Maps and YouTube as preloaded apps - and Microsoft is very motivated to make Bing a major player.
Add it all up, and it's easy to see why the automatic spot is suddenly valuable. I'm not sure Apple will be able to get the full billion out of Google, but it's likely the price will go up significantly.