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D-Link joins hands with Microsoft to give 'Super Wi-Fi' a push

802.11af finds a friend

television Test pattern

D-Link and Redmond have put the paddles on 802.11af, charged the machine, and hit the button.

The 2013 amendment to Wi-Fi is an air interface for “white space” frequencies (from 54 MHz to 698 MHz in the USA; Europe and the UK use a more realistic 490 to 790 MHz), with a maximum per-channel 35.6 Mbps (16 channels can be bonded together to get nearly 600 Mbps).

It's primarily a point-to-point link service rather than a user-access technology, and so it doesn't interfere with TV transmissions, 802.11af uses a cognitive radio to sense other spectrum users, and a localisation database to keep track of broadcasters.

Data rate, however, isn't the main story: compared to 2.4 GHz, TV frequencies cover a lot of ground, and that's the angle D-Link and Microsoft are touting.

The standard is designed for links up to 1 km in range, the kind of reach that 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi can only manage with a cantenna.

The two want to use 802.11af for rural/regional services in underserved areas, with a phase-one pilot currently underway in the US.

For Microsoft, the link-up represents an endorsement of the company's affordable access initiatives, under which it's run up white space trials in Africa and Asia.

D-Link is the first “name” vendor in the network space to line up with Microsoft on the initiative.

There's still a long march in front of 802.11af. For example, while the Wi-Fi Alliance said in 2014 it was working on certification for the standard, it hasn't made any follow-up statements. ®

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