“Super WiFi” Network at West Virginia University Sets Framework for VoIP Infrastructure

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“Super WiFi” Network at West Virginia University Sets Framework for VoIP Infrastructure “Super WiFi” Network at West Virginia University Sets Framework for VoIP Infrastructure“Super WiFi” Network at West Virginia University Sets Framework for VoIP Infrastructure

 

16 July 2013

On July 9th, West Virginia University launched what they are dubbing a “Super WiFi” network broadcast throughout the entire campus. This network uses TV band white space to provide free public WiFi access to students and faculty, as well as riders of the local Public Rapid Transport system (PRT). While the signal is currently broadcasted from the PRT station platforms, the university plans to expand this service to individual rail cars.

TV band white space is the unused spectrum of radio signals that are dedicated to television channels, but aren’t actually being used. Broadcasting WiFi Internet over these spaces does not connect users directly to the Internet, but does allow WiFi-capable devices to tap into that network.

The fact that this network is up and running without a problem means that the same service could be provided to rural areas, blanketing the areas in WiFi connectivity and connecting more people to the digital age. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, which require an Internet connection to function, are a perfect fit for these areas, eliminating the need to construct expensive phone lines.

What Makes this Network So Super?

Broadcasted Internet means that no wires are necessary. While this is convenient for laptops and computers, it is a huge help for VoIP services. Traditional phone lines need time, effort, and resources to construct that just aren’t available, especially in low-density countrysides.

White space broadcasts are sent in low frequencies, which let the signals penetrate through walls, trees, and hills over a distance of several miles. Currently, connecting such areas to the Internet by direct lines runs into the same problems as phone lines, but broadcasting the signal solves this problem entirely.

VoIP and WiFi

VoIP phone systems are superior to traditional telephones, but require an Internet connection. A WiFi Internet connection sets up the needed infrastructure for the phones to function, which is perfect for rural areas. A single broadcasted signal replaces the need for local residents to have any telephone wires at all, connecting everyone to the Internet in one fell swoop.

VoIP phones offer cheaper phone rates than traditional phone systems do, while providing a higher quality service with more included features. VoIP allows customers to have multiple phone lines with unlimited calling across the country, so that callers stay in touch for less.

The Next Steps

For public access WiFi to become a reality for remote communities, the technology needs to be perfected. West Virginia University’s Super WiFi network is a testing ground with thousands of subjects.

Should the experiment prove successful, West Virginia plans to extend high-speed broadband Internet throughout the rest of West Virginia. This paves the way for a nationwide public WiFi signal in the not-too-distant future.

White space testing is also underway in countries like South Africa, where it is already proving a success. A universal Internet connection provides unprecedented tools for economic, educational, and social activity. Broadcasted WiFi creates an exciting time in Internet history, and a change to public Internet access of this magnitude is nothing short of revolutionary.

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