Over 5 months ahead of schedule, the United Kingdom has signed off a public access, high speed Internet connection to blanket local residents. Transmitters previously used to broadcast television waves have been re-configured to emit WiFi signals, and engineers are waiting to receive the final go-ahead for bringing 4G Internet to Northeast Scotland and the Western Isles.
This could make huge changes in the way people communicate, especially through the use of Internet calling, also called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
How It Works
WiFi signals broadcasted over a television bandwidth is not unheard of, but this plan would be the largest implementation of it to date. The spectrum of radio waves in between television stations is commonly referred to as “white space.” White space frequencies have a long wavelength, and because of this the UK is able to send relatively low-powered signals over great distances. They also penetrate through walls, hills, and trees effectively.
A similar program already exists at the University of West Virginia, and Google has been testing the technology in South Africa. They have found that the WiFi signals are able to transmit high-speed Internet over a distance of a few miles, even to isolated areas with no phone or power cables.
Public WiFi Implications
Such signals reaching remote locations in Scotland and the Western Isles opens the door to Internet access, and all the information that comes with it. But it also gives residents a back door into voice communications.
VoIP phones generally offer a cheaper phone service that also has higher call quality and more features, but the only drawback is that it needs a working high-speed Internet connection to function. For many people who live in isolated regions, phone lines are impossible. A Super WiFi broadcast sets up the perfect infrastructure to bring VoIP communications to these people, helping them stay in contact with friends, family, and the rest of the world.
This also helps people who already have traditional phones. Many people can’t afford to purchase a high speed Internet connection of their own while also paying for a VoIP subscription, even with rates as low as only $6 a month. For them, traditional telephones still end up being the cheaper option. However, with a public access WiFi system in place, there will be no reason not to save money by switching to a VoIP home phone system.
Is Los Angeles Next?
Los Angeles councilman Bob Blumenfield recently declared that he wanted to put a city-wide WiFi connection in place, with free access for the public. While it is unclear whether or not it would be a high speed connection like the UK’s 4G network, having Internet to begin with makes it much easier to eventually upgrade the system to meet such a capacity. Either way, this proposal would mark Los Angeles as the largest city in the world to have such a service.
Public access WiFi technology paves the way for innovation and communication on a whole new scale. The Internet is one answer to a whole host of questions, and with WiFi granting access to VoIP technology, communication becomes easier for the whole world.