Thanks To Super WiFi, Your Next MacBook or iPad Might Be Able To Connect To Your Home WiFi Up To 60 Miles Away

Thanks To Super WiFi, Your Next MacBook or iPad Might Be Able To Connect To Your Home WiFi Up To 60 Miles Away

Frustrated by Apple’s reticence to release a Mac with a built-in 3G modem for everywhere internet connectivity? Don’t sweat it, Apple may have something else in mind: Super WiFi that would allow your MacBook to connect with your Time Capsule from up to 62 miles away.

Best of all? That tech just got one step closer to reality.

So you know the standard 802.11n WiFi that you can find in every Apple product, from your MacBook to your iPhone? The IEEE — which is the standards organization that governs all of WiFi — has just officially published WiFi’s next-gen standard, IEEE 802.22.

Utilizing white space frequencies that were previously hogged up by analog television broadcasts, IEEE 802.22 will allow you to transfer data at speeds up to 22Mbps to devices as far as 100 kilometers from the nearest transmitter.

The possibilities are obvious: as long as you are within an hour’s drive of your house, you could use Super WiFi to connect to the internet on your iPhone, iPad or MacBook.

Of course, standards being published are much different than hardware shipping, and we may have a while to wait before the first Super WiFI MacBooks start pumping out, but with the publication of the spec, Super WiFi just got a big step closer to being a part of all of our lives.

  • Friends of Mac

    Wow. I was secretly hoping that Apple was going to hide 3G connectivity into the new MBA’s but this is better. Having 2 iPhones on my bill, AT&T already gets enough of my money. I can’t wait to see more stories about this innovation.

    -Chris
    http://friendsofmac.net

  • Slash_Cynic

    Since when do iPads have modems?

  • Chuck Milam

    An hour’s drive (roughly 60 miles) from your house?  Sure, you could do that, in theory.  Here’s where the laws of physics come into play.  You’d have to figure your height about average terrain (HAAT) for the antennas on both sides of the connection, along with your antenna gain, transmit power, etc.  These are old analog TV frequencies?  Ok, take a look at the antenna height and transmitter power of TV broadcast stations 60+ miles away that you (used to) receive on the old rotatable yagi-style antenna at the house.  That transmitter was probably something like 1,200 feet high and transmitting at 1000 kW.  I’d hate to see the electric bill for that one on my home utility bill. 

    My point is:  All of these maximum range estimates that sound too good to be true?  They probably are.  At the least, they assume a perfect line-of-sight transmission path with impractical transceiver and antenna configurations, at least for an in-home setup. 

    I’m thinking this would be practical if ISPs begin to roll out 802.22 wide-area access points, but we’re not going to be plugging in a Linksys router in the kitchen and maintaining a link to it from across town anytime soon. 

  • Scott Duval

    ok… i like when something like this comes up… its like sci-fi… and next year old news…

  • Cindon83

    Please make it so….

  • chrispian

    I thought this was meant for RURAL areas only because they’ll be using unused bandwidth that is typically crowded in metro/urban areas. It’s still a great technology, but useless to me in the city if that part is true.

  • dongche79
  • Don Pope

    60 miles? That must be in completely flat and and unobstructed terrain or if your house is at the top of the tallest mountain around. This seems implausible to me.

  • gdkid2010

    Exactly. Would only (maybe) work out in the sticks

  • prof_peabody

    I think it’s a stretch to call this “Super Wi-Fi” 

    There are other nascent technologies around that deserve the name more.  

  • MacGoo

    If they build it I will buy it. However, theoretical is often significantly removed from real-world applications. That being said, if it’s theoretical range is 60 miles, and we get roughly half that in a consumer device, that’s still over 900x the range of 802.11n. I remember when 801.11n was being touted as the next big thing in wifi, and it only doubled 801.11g ranges. It’s hard to see how this WOULDN’T be a mind-blowing improvement over N.

  • Steve Hall

    Of course, the TV antenna that went the way of the dodo bird 20 years ago is still too big to fit in your pocket. Or your car. However, I do live in the sticks, so maybe this will be a good thing. Except…I’m pretty sure I just bought the last computer my wife will permit during this decade.

  • Steve Hall

    Since the iPad 6, of course! (Or maybe the iPad 5…depends on timing of releases…)

  • mikkeee

    Do you think AT&T and Verizon will be on board?!? Think about all the users who will dump their iPad data plan and downgrade their iPhone data plan. I know I would!

  • jim cancil

    Gimme-gimme!  I’m out on the edge of a marsh .. no Verzizon DSL .. closest ATT tower about 5 miles so I only get 2-3bars with an antenna.  Pluleeez get us ‘unserved’ something.  My wife is killing me because I have a 27″ iMac on cable at my shop.

    Jim

  • sebzar

    What about security? I like my home network to be in and around the house not in and around the town. ID-broadcasting is something that is turned off by default I hope, and MAC authentication turned on by default as well.

  • Evan Benford

    Just thinking of all the wi-fi networks that are going to pop up in my connect list…sounds great, but seems ridiculous. Wait and see.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    I’d gladly set up a rooftop rig with a mast if I could have my own WiFi connection for even a distance of 15 miles which would cost less.  I couldn’t think of anything more awesome than that except maybe have a persistent bus or subway personal WiFi connection for that distance.

    I’d even be satisfied if I could set up a Super WiFi connection that reached the local parks I go to within a two mile range.  I’m really looking forward to this new standard.

  • Tom Cooper

    You are not going to get 802.22 in your Mac or PC and be able to access your home wireless router from 60, 30, 10 or even 1 mile away.

    Not what it’s for.  This will be used at the ISP level, and mainly in rural areas.  Now in the future you may have 802.22 consumer level portable devices, but the range will be severely limited.  And you probably wouldn’t like the antenna you’d lug around or the 15 minute battery life.

    Think of it like 802.11a which has a range of around 5KM.  This has been used in rural areas to provide broadband (better than dialup at least).  This will increase the range but not really the bandwidth as 802.11a has an effective rate very similar to 802.22.

    Your best bet for universal connectivity in the near term here in the US is LTE.  Get a phone and tether.

  • RvLeshrac

    Since they included 3G modems. If you’re going to be snarky, try to be correct.

  • ?? ?

    Attenuation of signal is basically logarithmic, that means super wifi has only about 6.8x of 11n range.
    Likely you can walk few blocks away and still get connected to you home network, but not further.

  • Tianji Li

    The 22Mbps will be shared by everyone in this 60 miles!!!!!!!!!

  • joshuabardwell

    You’re right on the mark when you say that 802.22 is not intended for you to connect your laptop to your home network. It’s intended for WISP and last-mile type operation, similar to how 4G cellular is used now.

    I think you’re off the mark on 802.11a, though. 802.11a is basically identical to 802.11g, except that 802.11a operates in the 5 GHz UNII band vs. 802.11g’s 2.4 GHz ISM band. The theoretical range of both technologies is about the same, although 802.11g is limited by the increased interference and fewer number of channels available in the 2.4 GHz band. The main reason you see 802.11a being preferred for last-mile and WISP operation is because it has so many more available channels, you get much greater total possible system capacity.

  • Pat Engle

    This has a chance of working in the middle of the plain states like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, etc… Not very practical for someone who lives in a major metropolis like Chicago, New York or DC. Plus the security factor of having your data broadcast over a distance of 60 miles isn’t very practical for the security of the information. It’s one thing to be a needle in the haystack with a cell carrier but quite another to have a dedicated channel broadcasting 60 miles that ends at your home network. Also, there’s no way that this frequency span can be big enough to fit even 10 square miles of people at 22Mb/s concurrently. There are a lot of flaws in this idea, but you can’t fault people for thinking big I guess.

  • Soheil Abrishamchi

    no way

  • Ryan Wiggins

    How does this compare to motorola canopy?  We use this technology in my area to get internet access since our only other option is Qwest which is DSL and much slower (only up to 3mbs).

  • Kevin Kelley

    It’s not for your LAN, it’s called WRAN!  It’s to allow ISPs to reach untapped rural markets, not for every Average Joe to start broadcasting their porn over a 60 mile radius.

  • Mike Hammett

    From someone that builds wireless networks, this article is 100% crap.

  • Mike Hammett

    http://spectrumbridge.com/whit

    There aren’t going to be many (any?) channels available in the major cities.

  • Mike Hammett

    The portable devices may go several hundred yards. I believe we’ll get 30 miles+ with fixed installations. Some people are already getting that range from 900 MHz.

  • Mike Hammett

    These frequencies will have pretty good obstruction penetration, but yes, they will not be able to penetrate Mother Earth.

  • Mike Hammett

    The initial plans were to have all of the TVWS go to unlicensed use. Then some people were trying to relocate some TV stations so there was a large contiguous block of spectrum, to be auctioned to cellular carriers. Currently there is an effort to severely constrain any future unlicensed bands from becoming available, which would make this all irrelevant.

  • Mike Hammett

    802.11af will be the IEEE standard for consumer use. 802.22 will be for WISP installations.

    The portable devices will have extremely minimal antennas per FCC requirement. Because of the low EIRP, I don’t believe they will have high power consumption.

    The 5 GHz band is capable of “incredible” distances (10 miles in a PtMP environment), but in standard devices, the range is limited to a few hundred feet.

    The cellular companies are looking to use LTE in the bands they get a hold of.

  • Mike Hammett

    Interference reduction is also a major advantage of 5 GHz.

  • Mike Hammett

    Are you the provider or the consumer?

  • Mike Hammett

    Thank you, Cult of Mac, for allowing me to do your research for you. It’s publications like yours that permit me to spend my day correcting articles and the resultant uninformed comments.

  • warpinsf

    “…and transmitting at 1000 kW.”
    There’s no way I’m going to believe they transmit a gigawatt of power. The world’s largest nuclear power plant produces around a gigawatt per reactor [1].

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K

  • warpinsf

    “…and transmitting at 1000 kW.”
    There’s no way I’m going to believe they transmit a gigawatt of power. The world’s largest nuclear power plant produces around a gigawatt per reactor [1].

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K

  • Dylan Rowe

    1000kW=1 megawatt, not a gigawatt.

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  • Jorge Capllonch

    Honestly, this is BS.

    First, there are laws of physic  that prevent a signal from traveling for long distances.

    Also the quality of the signal highly depends on the spectrum they belong to and the height of the transmitter  and receiver.

    For example a simple, yet not so obvious obstacle is the curvature of the earth. 
    Yeah the earth isn’t flat.

    Second, lets say its possible to connect within a 5 mile radius. The SUPER wifi will be slow and horrible thanks to the SUPER interference from other SUPER wifi devices.

    Third, in order to achieve such connectivity at such long distance the transmitter should radiate at something higher than 26dbi in an omni-directional fashion , which is as of now, very forbidden by the fcc. 

    60 miles? Not possible. 

  • MacGoo

    Good by me. Right now I have to park in front of my house in order to get a signal. 60 miles is obviously a pipe dream, but if they can boost the signal while keeping it affordable, I’m all for it!

  • mai duc chung

    The usual idea is that you would use NFC to set up the link between the two devices and then do an automatic hand over to a different protocol for doing the actual transfer of data – eg Bluetooth,iphone 5

  • Karol Andersson

    Sounds great!

  • Karol Andersson

    Carlson Wireless already has a product that operates in these frequencies, but it is only available under FCC-granted experimental license at present. It is a fixed wireless solution (not a mobile solution as this article describes) and I have not heard about any mobile products even being close to market. TV frequencies can indeed “penetrate” and work around obstacles, so it is an excellent solution for situations without line-of-sight, and for rural broadband because there are more vacant TV channels in rural areas. It does require a Yagi antennas at access point and client stations. Find out more at http://www.carlsonwireless.com.

  • Lars Pallesen

    So what you’re saying is that the 802.22 standard recently ratified by IEEE and approved by United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is just … bullshit? :-0
    Wow … just … wow.

  • Jonny Lin

    have you ever used a TV? they receive signals from more than 60miles away. and the IEEE802.22 protocol (super wifi) uses the frequency that analogue TVs use.
    also, did you mention “interference”? they use orthogonal frequency division multiplexing to avoid that.

    sorry, i can’t help being correct.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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