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RAIN 10/13: Wired investigates just how "super" white space "super Wi-Fi" will be

Posted on: 10/13/2010


Late last month, the FCC unanimously voted to open the unused TV “white space” spectrum for wireless broadband — “super Wi-Fi,” as it has been dubbed (RAIN coverage here). The idea of wide-range cheap high-speed Wi-Fi is particularly exciting from a mobile Internet radio perspective. But do the realities of this white space “super Wi-Fi” live up to that excitement? A new Wired article investigates how the system will look in practice.

“The short answer is that the new spectrum could be really great news for rural areas, won’t be nearly as useful in dense urban areas,” writes Wired. “Unfortunately, the reality is that the new spectrum is inversely proportional to where you want it,” said Bill Kish, the CTO and co-founder of Ruckus Wireless. “Where are all the iPhones? They are in cities, where the whitespaces aren’t available.”

Add to that the fact that white space Wi-Fi would “top out at less than 40 Mbps per channel,” compared to the 300 Mbps of data you can get on a Wireless-N channel (due to the “width” of the respective channels). It sort of sounds like “super-broadband isn’t that super at all.”

That said, it takes a lot less battery power to access white space broadband. So, devices could switch radio frequencies based on demands, like switching bicycle gears Kish said. When a device is in sleep mode, it could use the new broadband space to gather email or Twitter updates without burning so much battery.

Wired notes that prototypes using this new white space broadband aren’t expected until 2012 (though professors in Houston are at work building a white space network). We’ll have to wait until then to see the real implications of this “super Wi-Fi” for mobile Internet radio. Find the full article from Wired here.


Yesterday Bloomberg ran an article on the benefits Pandora presents to advertisers once it arrives in car dashboards (RAIN coverage here). Sam Diaz of ZDNet says not so fast. Pandora still has some hurdles to overcome, he argues, like the “financial challenges” of massive royalty fees. Then there’s the competition from Last.fm, Slacker and the rest of the Internet radio community to consider — not to mention on-demand services like Spotify. “As the services take off and money starts pouring in, you can almost guarantee that others will pop up,” Diaz writes (here).

Mark Ramsey sees Bloomberg‘s article as a wake-up call to broadcasters. “This is not news – it has been coming for a while,” he writes. “But I don’t think it is getting nearly the attention in the radio industry that it should…The issue is not whether mobile phones have FM receivers. The issue is,” he writes (here), “whether or not consumers can control their own content experiences in your presence, and whether or not you are capable of providing much richer metrics to the advertisers you claim to serve.”


The 129th AES (Audio Engineering Society) Convention in San Francisco this November will focus on broadcast audio and streaming issues. Sessions will cover topics like digital radio innovations, audio processing for streaming, tutorials on audio over IP and audio performance in streaming. The conference happens November 4-7 and you can find out more here.


Okay, so maybe this isn’t a gadget we’ve been holding our breath for (or even imagined would ever exist in the first place), but the Cybertecture Mirror making the rounds online today caught our eye by offering Internet radio streaming via a Wi-Fi connection and built-in speakers. Yes, this means your bathroom mirror could stream Internet radio.

Of course, the mirror’s main fuctions are displaying (besides reflections), weather forecasts, personalized calendars, event notifications, e-mails and more. It costs over $7,700 and will be available in December. GeekwithLaptop.com has more here.

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