New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

Summary: MIT's Technology Review is reporting on new WiFi radio devices from Intel that drastically increase the effective range of bridged routers. Intel claims a range between two of the $500 routers near 60 miles, although most implementations are expected to connect wired urban cores with wireless villages within 30 miles.

TOPICS: Networking, Intel, Wi-Fi

MIT's Technology Review is reporting on new WiFi radio devices from Intel that drastically increase the effective range of bridged routers. Intel claims a range between two of the $500 routers near 60 miles, although most implementations are expected to connect wired urban cores with wireless villages within 30 miles.

As the article notes, in many areas, it simply isn't feasible to run copper or fiber to these villages:

Wireless satellite connections are expensive, [Jeff Galinovsky, a senior platform manager at Intel] points out. And it's impractical to wire up some villages in Asian and African countries. "You can't lay cable," he says. "It's difficult, expensive, and someone is going to pull it up out of the ground to sell it."

Most wireless routers wait for acknowledgment from other nodes on the network before sending additional data, drastically reducing bandwidth and range. The new Intel routers use software to set up specific times at which the devices are expected to be communicating, eliminating the need for such acknowledgments.

At over 6Mbps, the links provide adequate speed for videoconferencing, and, of course, connecting the exurban classrooms and the Classmate PCs that Intel is rolling out.

Topics: Networking, Intel, Wi-Fi

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Re: "New WiFi...improves rural communications"

    Great!!! Glad to hear about the technology.


    What's this talk about Africa and Asia? What about here in the U.S.?

    ANYONE who is outside the reach of Cable is going to be CONDEMNED to years more of the Internet via POTS.

    The LAST place I lived in (out in the Boondocks of WA. State) we had TWO choices if we wanted the Internet in our home: POTS, or SATELLITE.

    While the POTS connection was CHEAP, its connection speed was ALWAYS at or below [b][u]23kbps [/u][/b]. Completely INADEQUATE
    • Re: "New WiFi...improves rural communicatioins"

      Sorry, hit the wrong key.
      To continue my diatribe,

      SATELLITE was of two types: down-links via the Satellite with up-links via POTS, or up-and-downlinks via the Satellite.

      BOTH were LIMITED to MAX of 1.5mbps (supposedly). And THIS after paying over a thousand bucks just to purchase the equipment needed. THEN they charged us a MINIMUM of $129/Mo. for the FASTEST up-links/down-links. (1.5mpbs down, 90k or less up.) Even the fastest speed NEVER reached that theoretical maximum, and the majority of times was it was LESS then 900kbps. FOR $129/MO PLUS over a thousand bucks just to IMPLEMENT it.

      You folks in the cities think YOUR service is expensive? MOVE INTO THE MOUNTAINS out of the city!!

      WHY is EVERYONE thinking all about EVERYONE ELSE but Americans when they talk about helping the poor, homeless, and communicationlessness. What happened to OUR "Universal Broadband Initiative"? What about OUR poor, homeless, and communicationlessness?

      Of course, we always provide help for OUR needy LAST.

      Anyway, Intel, how about US here in the States, who CAN'T get a decent connection in the Boondocks because the Cable companies don't want to run 30 miles of cable from the nearest city for a few hundred folks who must rely on POTS to stay in touch with the rest of the country?

      IF you FAIL to think of us, just think of those Africans and Asians who will get broadband before WE will.

      Donald L McDaniel
  • RE: New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

    sounds like a very good thing for rural areas of the US as well. I had internet service (1995-2002) in Rockdale Texas, but could not service the folks outside the town with anything better than dialup. Of course the poor lines made this very slow with speeds typically in the 12 to 14k range.

    With a 30 mile range, I could have provided service to these folks AND to some of the smaller towns that had nothing at all.

    Great Job INTEL!
  • RE: New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

    Well, tony, I certainly understand, though I was not on the provisioning end, I was a consumer of those crappy-assed POTS lines. We were luckier, though: Our POTS was 23kbps max. WOW!! so MUCH FASTER, 'ey?

    Our service was so slow, that we got up in the morning, turned our computers on, opened the Browser, and waited till Lunch for our our home page to fully load. It was usually fully loaded by the time we got the lower-forty plowed.

    Seriously, though. These city slickers should try contacting their offices via a computer out there in the Boonies.

    Maybe it would move them to get off the "POT" and get decent broadband to the REST of the States. (Sorry for the bad pun. I thought the moment called for it.)

    Donald L McDaniel
  • RE: New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

    Read the release: Specific Times! What is this? RF is RF and the free space medium is here to stay, granted! But if the distance is great, and your end or the other is NOT set up correctly - zero. The reference to "Specific Times" reads (in my humble opinion) that you won't have the "instant" communications seen in the connected world of the Internet. Ask a question, and and some time you'll get a response - which is stating you have only removed the "are you there?" state of the technology with a random state of "I take a chance something has been sent to me." Maybe?
  • RE: New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

    I have a hard time buying this 60 mile range as the curvature of the earth cuts off line of site at about 30 miles. But hey, maybe Intel uses some proprietary spherical geometry.
    • The 60 mile limit

      is imposed by the curvature of the earth...However, the article did note that 30 miles was considered more practical and common.

  • I am replying to this article over a regional WiFi system

    I am one of these rural Americans that has limited options for Internet access. I live about 12 miles south of Fort Worth, Texas, as the crow flies. I am about 8 miles west of the nearest town. In fact, I am about one mile off the Old Chisholm Trail, if you want to be nostalgic. When I first moved here over five years ago, I believed that my only options for the Internet were dial-up or satellite. With dial-up, being this far from town, I would have been lucky to achieve even 23 kbps. Satellite was expensive for start-up and for the monthly fees, especially when you look at the speeds you get. In addition, satellite is not reliable in storms with very heavy cloud cover. I should also note here the Hughes now also restricts your bandwidth if you are a heavy user, much like Comcast and Time Warner are doing on cable. Fortunately, after being here for only a few months, my local telephone company got into the WiFi business. They started with what now would be considered very crude equipment. The service was OK at times (about 600-750 kbps), but given that the antenna was on the watertower in town 8 miles away, and my antenna was on a twenty foot pole, it was very subject to inconsistency and dropped packets when the wind was present. Another company emerged with better equipment and a tower on a peak only a couple of miles away. The antenna on my home was much simpilier and attaches on a short sturdy bracket, much like a satellite dish. They offer two levels of service. I currently subscribe to the lower one with static IP for about $55 per month and get consistent service at 1 Mbps, even in thunderstorms. Their upper tier service would get me about 2 Mbps for $70 per month. They use a higher frequency and limit the number of local users on this service. Really the biggest negative of this system, is that the routers on the transmission antennas are somewhat at the mercy of the elements, so occasionally, service will be interrupted after a thunderstorm. However, my provider has gotten much better at protecting the equipment and getting the service back up, usually less than 24 hours, even on the weekends. More and more of these rural WiFi providers are popping up. I think we know have 4 or 5 in our area, and I know there are many throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
  • RE: New WiFi from Intel improves rural communications

    I am one of those people that have fallen through the cracks. I build a home about three miles south of Coupeville WA. When I set up my computer the phone line only gave me 26K max. Trying to share with the phone line was unsatisfactory so I had a second phone line installed some where around $10-12 a month. My surprise was that this second line ran at 50.6K so I caught a phone Tech working at the local phone switch boxes about 600 feet by the crow fly and hard wired probably 1000 feet to the house. The phone tech told me my first phone line had a splitter modem on it so they could hookup a second home just by using two wires to the modem and then two wires to each house for telephone service. And when they installed the second phone line the wiring was two wires from the phone switch boxes to my house. I tried to get DSL connection but no luck through the dial up phone rep. So I bushwhack another phone tech. in the neighborhood and asked why no DSL in our area. It turn out there are several reasons. First our phone line are not feed by copper wire from Coupeville 3 miles away and even so that at the max range of DSL and would have less the 300K feed more like 60-70K not much better then dialup. Next thing was all our copper feed was from the local phone switch boxes the was feed by a fiber optic line so the DSL would have to start at the switch boxes and all the need was a special board installed to get DSL which General Telephone had provided for when they made the installation of the switch boxes. General Telephone was bought out by Verizon and they have no interest to even try to give DSL because of FCC regulations state if they, Verizon, offer the service they would have to provide the facilities to competitors to sell DSL services also. Now Verizon has the room to do that at the main building in Coupeville but not at the switch boxes. Now Satellite is and option to use and the start up cost is some where between $300-500 but them monthly fees of $70 or $80 that a killer not to mention bandwidth restrictions, my dialup bumps up the max bandwidth restrictions of satellites. Comcast installed a fiber optic line to Au Sable a semi- Christian environmental stewardship of the land and they are setting up educational facilities for young people to learn their philosophy. Au Sable is in the process of installing Wi-Fi for their students the come there with the laptops. Because their lines are some were around 500 to 700 feet away I ask Comcast for a feed and they want to know how many of my neighbors which turn out to be 6 or 7 of us. Comcast technical section did a survey and said it would cost 43 thousand dollars and we would have to share the cost which came to 32 thousand. There is no way us poor people going to cough that kind of money. Cost per foot of fiber optic line is $10 to $20. There are at least one high frequency Wi-Fi supplier in Oak Harbor 10 miles away but then trees and antenna heights come into play and I am out of range. I am guessing that their frequency is some where between 1.7 GHz and 2.4 GHz so line of sight comes into play. I was and Aviation Electronic Technician in the Navy from 1951 to 1981 and work with equipment with frequency range from 300 KHz to 10 GHz and have a working knowledge dealing problems of line of sight. One time I was tuning up and ARC-1 transceiver 110 MHz to 130 MHz range and talk to a station I know over 60 miles away and both or antennas were at ground level it was clear as a bell is the old expression says. Now the closing down of analog TV on 17 February 2009 is going to free up them frequencies under100Mhz that Google and other have been biding on. It is I my speculation that they will get in the business of Wi-Fi at these frequencies. Some place I seen something on the internet showing that at them frequencies they would only have to use one transmitter site to cover the same area that 9 cell phone sites require to get reliable communications. Again it is my speculation that digital spread transmission coupled with directional phase antennas like starting to be use in aircraft radar systems will get around the limitations of omni antennas and bandwidth, still getting a 60 mile radius. Now the only problem I have now is them actuary tables as I am 74 years old and as I see it, it will take 2 to 5 years to get low frequency Wi-Fi.
    • WISP Directory

      You may want to try It is a searchable listing of wireless ISPs. I looked up WA and there are several in the state. Since I am not that familiar with WA, I'm not sure which is closest to you. When I was looking for service, if a company didn't cover my area, they were able to tell me who did.
  • Gee, ya think maybe

    This might be a useful technology in places like, I dunno... the U.S.? Would be nice if a trucker friend of mine could access the internet in Nowhere, Missouri.

    How silly of me though. America's on the way out. It's really really really important to get some African village with outdoor plumbing on the internet. The kind of place where the honest, hardworking, creative people dig up copper wires that don't belong to them, to sell them. (maybe because they need the money more than they need google).
  • This is an exciting development !!!

    I teach computers here in rural Mississippi. Several on my students have only dialup or expensive satellite for internet access. I have enquired about wideband and they appear to limit bytes (similar to the old cellular per minute charges). It's nice to know that a new kid may soon be in town!!
  • Consumer version? :D

    This sounds interesting, now if only there could be a consumer version haha

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach