Vocab Lesson to start - SUPER WI-FI - Super Wi-Fi is essentially Wi-Fi as we already know it, but on a new, unused block of unlicensed spectrum (thanks FCC!). This spectrum ranges from 50 MHz to 700 MHz and is at a much lower frequency than Wi-Fi is now, which will allow for better travel of data signals. I recently read on article on Super Wi-Fi. The article makes some great points about Super Wi-Fi, which is supposedly the direction we're all heading. Should it pan out, Americans will have the ability to get Wi-Fi access all across town, or campus, or park, or whatever it may be. This makes me think of two futuristic possibilities: (1) the possibility of every human being having some kind of ever-connected bracelet, or ring, or even chip in them and (2) the fall of cell phone providers.
The article begins by shedding light on the first "Super Wi-Fi" network in Wilmington, North Carolina. With the first efforts relatively successful, are we ready to move everyone over to "Super Wi-Fi"? Not so fast, the article argues. "New Hanover County IT Director Leslie Chaney says that the network is being used primarily as backhaul technology for the time being and won't be available for residential subscribers in the county for at least a year."
The article goes on to describe some of the problems that Super Wi-Fi will still need to overcome. Some of the problems include establishing network standards that have yet to be worked out and mass-producing chipsets that will work on the spectrum. Overall though, Super Wi-Fi is impressive. Having taken advantage of unused TV frequencies, Super Wi-Fi is at an overall lower frequency, which means less interference from rain and walls. The county estimates that the networks will be ready for Super Wi-Fi in a year, and the country will be ready in 2-3 years.
The first impact mentioned has to do with monitoring human life. I was telling my wife last week that I thought embedded heart-rate, temperature, and other health/performance measuring sensors in the everyday wedding ring will be an amazing technology in the future (and that we should build it). With Wi-Fi access anywhere, and data-to-Wi-Fi transmitting chips embedded on small items such as a camera's SD card, I have to wonder when this technology will become an every day part of human life for health monitoring. Sure, there's still years of technology and scores of legal issues to get through, but we're moving that direction.
The second, and more pressing issue is what to do with cell-phone carriers once Wi-Fi becomes commonplace. Think of the impact nationwide Wi-Fi (are we really that far away from it?) will have. I've already thought of ditching my phone's phone plan, data plan, and text messaging plan and using a free service like google voice, skype, heytell, facebook messenger or some combination of those as my replacement for AT&T. What will happen when we realize that we don't need to pay AT&T for their text messaging data (thank you WiFi), "data" data (thank you WiFi), and even cellular phone data. With Google being one of the first to venture into providing these services, I see a whole need business model with google creeping in, charging 10 bucks a month for all the above, and the whole U.S. flocking to Google Voice. Because seriously, why I am pay $100/month for AT&T when I can get the same data using my home/school/work Wi-Fi and soon enough... Super Wi-Fi.
For these, and many other reasons, I think Super Wi-Fi will have an enormous impact on the world.