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Saturday, September 28 • 4:45pm - 5:20pm
WiFi As A Commercial Service

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While Wi-Fi has enjoyed explosive growth and deployment for use in residential homes, the rollout of commercial Wi-Fi service has been more limited. Part of the holdback on large-scale commercial deployment has been the strategic concern that the commons model to spectrum management lacks the incentives for service providers to invest due to the limited ability to manage interference in the unlicensed band. Today, however, this situation is changing. Joining already significant Wi-Fi deployments by mobile operators, large cable operators committed last year to the nationwide deployment of over 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.

This paper will answer two important questions raised by the growing interest in Wi-Fi as a commercial service: 1. Why is there growing confidence in Wi-Fi as a commercial wireless platform despite its unlicensed status? 2. What are the technical and policy implications of a significant commercial Wi-Fi presence?

To answer the first question, the paper will argue that the reason for growing confidence in Wi-Fi as a commercial platform is due to the activities of the Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE 802.11 standards group. The paper will review these activities such as Passpoint 2.0 and then compare them to the role of a traditional spectrum manager. It is anticipated that this review will demonstrate that a large number of existing features of 802.11 maps closely to the functions traditionally employed by an effective band manager that is optimizing efficiency on a licensed spectrum block. The gap analysis between 802.11 features and band manager roles may also identify new areas of focus for the Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE 802.11 to continue this role.

To answer the second question we will examine how the requirements for commercial Wi-Fi are different than personal Wi-Fi, and may diverge over time. Amongst the hotspots affiliated with its service, commercial service providers will need to manage interference, and monitor and improve network performance. The paper will discuss the current ideas under discussion in 802.11 for the next version of Wi-Fi such as transmit power control, additional 5 GHz spectrum, frequency planning, beamforming, and whether they will meet these new commercial requirements. The answer to this question is key, as a failure to address commercial requirements could lead to oversaturation of the 5.x GHz band in addition to the already congested 2.4 GHz band (i.e., the tragedy of the commons).


David Reed

University of Colorado Boulder

Saturday September 28, 2013 4:45pm - 5:20pm PDT
GMUSL Room 221

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