SuperWiFi launched in Canada, but it's not U.S. Super Wi-Fi

A company in British Columbia has launched a commercial trial of SuperWiFi, but the service is not the same as the U.S. Super Wi-Fi networks that are supposed to use TV white spaces.

Navigata Communications 2009 said its SuperWiFi service in Kamloops, BC, will be marketed via its subsidiary kuMobile and will use Navigata's licensed 3.5 GHz spectrum to provide backhaul and connectivity to the Kamloops area.  The kuMobile SuperWiFi network will support the 802.11n standard delivering throughput up to 160 Mbps. SuperWiFi users will be able to access the Internet throughout the city from any standard WiFi-enabled device. Voice, video, data and web browsing will all be supported on a high-speed, low-latency network," said Navigata.  

The company will offer monthly subscription services, as well as daily and weekly pre-paid options, to residents, businesses and visitors to the area. Navigata hopes to roll-out its SuperWiFi service in medium-size communities across British Columbia and Alberta over the next three years.

But Navigata's SuperWiFi is not the same as Super Wi-Fi, a term coined by the Federal Communications Commission to describe networks that use unlicensed TV white spaces for longer-distance wireless Internet. Unlike Navigata's licensed 3.5 GHz spectrum, U.S. white spaces occupy the 698-806 MHz band. In the payroll tax extension bill passed by the Congress last week, the FCC was given authority to continue allocating unlicensed spectrum in the TV white spaces.

Adding to the confusion, the FCC's Super Wi-Fi term has raised the ire of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which wants the term tossed altogether because Super Wi-Fi is, to put it simply, not Wi-Fi at all and does not interoperate with the billions of Wi-Fi devices in use today. The alliance is discouraging the use of the term Wi-Fi in any manner that it says could confuse consumers.

"The Wi-Fi Alliance supports efforts to use the unlicensed spectrum known as Television White Spaces to expand connectivity. However, there is currently no Wi-Fi technology that operates in this spectrum," said Wi-Fi Alliance Marketing Director Kelly Davis-Felner in a press release last month. "It is important that users not be misled into confusing any such technology with Wi-Fi."

The first commercial Super Wi-Fi network using TV white spaces launched last month in Wilmington, N.C., using technology from Spectrum Bridge.

Canada, meanwhile, is still trying to sort out what to do with its white spaces. On Nov. 4, 2011, Industry Canada closed for comments its public consultation regarding what the policy and technical framework for the use of non-broadcasting applications in the television broadcasting bands below 698 MHz.

For more:
- see this Navigata release
- see this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article
- see this PC Magazine article

Related articles:
Wilmington white spaces network goes live
Groups call for more unlicensed spectrum for broadband services
FCC approves spectrum test that could spark 'Super WiFi' services
Microsoft leads industry heavyweights in UK white space trial
White spaces: It's ‘WiFi on steroids,' but where's the market?

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