Super WiFi solves the Google carrier problem

Summary:With Super WiFi Google would not need to build out its own network in order to see consumers offered extensive, high-speed WiFi services.

When I wrote last week about the FCC's pending action to create new unlicensed frequencies in TV white spaces, which chair Julius Genachowski has dubbed "Super WiFi," a lot of you got excited.

With good reason.

WiFi's big problem has always been its short range. Making lower frequency bands available to unlicensed use could solve this problem, allowing the creation of larger WiFi networks to replace the present hotspots.

Carriers have been quiet on the issue. Objections have come instead from broadcasters and makers of wireless microphones. The broadcasters seem mollified, and the microphone users should be able to live with smaller, more agile allocations.

By giving interviews over the weekend expressing excitement over the coming action, Genachowski seemed to signal that approval is a given. I'm still concerned about whether power limits on the new frequency will allow the system to achieve its promise, but let's assume for a moment they will.

This might explain Google's silence in the face of carrier efforts to destroy Android on the launch pad, by filling so-called Android phones with so much crapware that users turn away from it.

Remember that Android is not Google's only entry into the emerging mobile space. There is also the Chromium OS, expected to become the heart of Google-based tablets within a year.

Tablets don't need carrier contracts. The iPad is available without a carrier contract. The idea is that the iPad has more client power and storage, that downloads would often be too large to be practical on 3G networks. You might go online with an iPhone in your car, but the iPad isn't a phone. Best wait until you get to the coffee shop.

So what Google may have is a way, with its tablet, to bypass the phone networks:

  1. Google is still cooperating with Clearwire, the troubled 4G WiMax network.
  2. Google still has a lot of dark fiber it was, at last report, offering to cities willing to build-out super-fast broadband.
  3. Google has found the cost of fiber to the home prohibitive -- at least $3,000 per home passed.
  4. The new frequencies let WiFi find competitive broadband more efficiently.

Google wants to use its fiber assets, but the cost of doing so in a wired network seems prohibitive. Even the cost of building out a new wireless network seems prohibitive.

The new Super WiFi frequencies, however, would enable many WiFi systems to easily reach Google fiber connections, assuring that backhaul remains super-cheap. All those shipping containers going to carrier offices with Google in a box could connect to wireless customers through a Super WiFi antenna system.

In other words, with Super WiFi Google would not need to build out its own network in order to see consumers offered extensive, high-speed WiFi services. They could reach its points of presence and the network would build itself. Thus Chromium tablets could come out without carrier contracts.

Since the promise of Super WiFi won't start to become real until next year -- manufacturers must make gear meeting whatever specifications the FCC sets -- Google need not hurry.

Let the phone companies ruin Android. They're just hurting their own images. Something better is going to come along, and soon.

Topics: Government : US, Google, Government, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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