Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Do you want high power Wi-Fi?

It's good to see Ofcom thinking things out. The regulator has looked at the idea of Wi-Fi for rural broadband, and come to the conculsion that it needs more power, for longer range signals. So it wants to allow that. In fact it wants to allow Wi-Fi kit that's 100 times more powerful, at 10 Watts.

But what about the interference you ask? Well, Ofcom looked at the likely way it will all be implemented and came up with the following arguments. Hotspots, office WLANs and home users won't get much benefit from higher power versions of regular Wi-Fi access points - especially since it's going to be more expensive (won't have the economies of scale) a smaller market. Rural providers will jump at the chance to send Wi-Fi links over 10km or so.

In the country there won't be much interference to those directional links, because there's not so many people. In the city, there will be more interference, which - from the nature of things - will affect the broadband link more than the many little WLANs in its path.

So the high power option will get used in the country where it's needed, and won't get used in the city where it will be clobbered by interference, and isn't needed in any case thanks to 8M bit/s DSL.

Do you agree with Ofcom's arguments? Let them know.


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