First, there is the existing TV white space spectrum that has been fought over -- generally in the 700 MHz realm. This will remain available for unlicensed uses.
Second, as part of the discussion on the planned new spectrum auction (scheduled in 2014) focused in the 600 MHz block, FCC is proposing that the new auction should, in theory, add additional open spectrum for unlicensed use. The FCC is specifically looking at freeing up channel 37 (608 to 614 MHz), and portions of the so-called "guard bands" between licensed spectrum chunks, that they would like to "add" to the existing white space rules. Such moves are said to minimize interference problems in the white space.
The agency said:
The FCC's proposals will enable a substantial amount of spectrum use by unlicensed devices. A significant portion of this spectrum will be available on a nationwide basis, which is important because there currently is little or no white space in the TV bands in parts of many major markets. In making these proposals, the FCC seeks to promote greater innovation in new products and services, including increased access for wireless broadband services across the country.
Stakeholders vying for the coveted white space spectrum include licensed users (current cellular network operators) and unlicensed users (offering products based on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and others).
Opponents to Super Wi-Fi argue that white space (and the additional open spectrum that becomes available as part of the spectrum auction) is best used to ease bandwidth problems.
Advocates of Super Wi-Fi, meanwhile, believe the initiative promoted by AIR.U is the best way to connect underserved communities with wireless broadband access without having to pay a monthly cellphone bill.
Bob Nichols, CEO of Declaration Networks Group (DNG), LLC and AIR.U co-founder, said in a statement, "Super Wi-Fi presents a lower-cost, scalable approachto deliver high capacity wireless networks." He explained that the company hopes to "lead the way for a new broadband alternative to provide sustainable models that can be replicated and extended to towns and cities nationwide."
Helping to enable West Virginia University to become the Super Wi-Fi test site are: AIR.U co-founder Declaration Networks Group to manage network deployment; the West Virginia Network for Telecomputing to provide the fiber optic Internet backhaul for the network: and Adaptrum Inc., a San Jose-based start-up offering white space equipment designed to operate on vacant TV channels.
Microsoft and Google both provided early support for AIR.U's overall effort to spur innovation to upgrade the broadband available to underserved campuses and their surrounding communities.
West Virginia Univ. stated in its press release:
Because the unique propagation characteristics of TV band spectrum enables networks to broadcast Wi-Fi connections over several miles and over hilly and forested terrain, the FCC describes unlicensed access to vacant TV channels as enabling 'Super Wi-Fi' services.
For example, WVU can add additional Wi-Fi hotspots in other locations around campus where students congregate or lack connectivity today. Future applications include public Wi-Fi access on the PRT cars and machine-to-machine wireless data links supporting control functions of the PRT System.
This initial deployment, blanketing the WVU campus with Wi-Fi connectivity, will test equipment capabilities, system throughput and the performance of TV band frequencies in supporting broadband Internet applications.