Feature Article

January 25, 2012

Building out Infrastructure to Support Broadband in Rural Areas: Super WiFi Summit Interview

One of the more exciting elements within ITEXPO East 2012 is the Super WiFi Summit event. With so much activity happening in this space, TMC wanted to get a closer look with those at the heart of the industry. Carl Ford, Partner at Crossfire Media, sat down with Matt Larsen, CEO of Vistabeam, to dig deeper into the current environment. Asked about White Space testing, Larsen noted that testing is pretty much complete and several hardware products are ready to hit the market.

As for the demand with Super WiFi, Larsen believes the best market will be last-mile access in rural areas and will be best used in a fixed wireless environment. Larsen points to areas with lots of tree cover as the ones that will benefit the most from Super WiFi equipment, allowing for higher market penetration for rural providers. He also believes the spectrum database is a great way to encourage sharing and open up new ways to access many other kinds of spectrum.

When asked about the impact of younger users and their relevance to Super WiFi, Larsen noted the younger generation is entering the workforce less tolerant of places where broadband is inaccessible. Rural areas will suffer if they do not get adequate infrastructure built out to support the needs in this new generation. He believes the Super WiFi Summit is one of the few events that focus on new technology, making it a must-attend event in the communications space.

Their entire conversation is provided below: 

Where do we stand on the testing of White Space Solutions?    
It appears that testing is pretty much completed and there are several hardware products ready to hit the market.

What are the possibilities for demand with Super WiFi? Is this a mass market or a niche market?   
The best market for Super WiFi will be last-mile access in rural areas where RF propagation is important.   This will not be a mass-market product like cellular telephones, it will be best used in a fixed wireless environment as a substitute for outdated DSL deployments or in new broadband deployments to areas that currently do not have any broadband access.

Where and how will Super WiFi be implemented?   
Areas with lots of tree cover will be the primary beneficiaries of Super WiFi equipment.   The propagation characteristics of the spectrum will allow much higher market penetration for rural broadband providers.   There may be some use of the gear in urban or non-treed areas, but rural areas will get the most benefit.

Much of our discussion at the event is about Internet and Spectrum Policy.  How does the use of a spectrum database impact policy for Super WiFi / TV WhiteSpace and future strategies?
The spectrum database is a great way to encourage spectrum sharing and open up new ways to access many other kinds of spectrum.   By providing a kind of access control mechanism based on location, it will enable productive use of spectrum that is otherwise very underutilized or inaccessible to broadband providers.

Often our lessons are generational based on our kids and the millenials now entering the work force.  What is the impact of these new users and what is their relevance to Super WiFi?
The younger generation that is entering the workforce will be less tolerant of places where they cannot get broadband.    Rural areas without broadband access will suffer if we do not get adequate infrastructure built out to support the needs of this generation.   

Mobile broadband is important, but the advent of “fixed mobile” – fixed wireless or wireline networks that feed WiFi hotspots – will mitigate the need for full coverage in mobile because it will allow end users and/or entrepreneurs to build out their own infrastructure with WiFi gear to deliver broadband to mobile devices.   WiFi offloading is poised to become a very important element, and Super WiFi technology will be feeding the WiFi access points in many parts of the country.

Why is Super WiFi Summit a must-attend communications event?  
The Super WiFi Summit is one of the few events that focus on this new technology.  


To find out more about Matt Larsen and Vistabeam, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2012. To be held Jan. 31- Feb. 3 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla., ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Larsen is speaking during “From Frontier to Colonists.” For more information on ITEXPO registration, click here.

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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