County uses TV spectrum to expand Wi-Fi outdoors

A county in North Carolina is expanding its municipal Wi-Fi network outdoors using unlicensed space on the broadcast spectrum, Government Technology reports.

New Hanover County, N.C., is the first municipal government in the nation to win Federal Communications Commission approval to use the white space spectrum — the area of the broadcast spectrum between channels freed up when television stations made the transition from analog to digital — for what the FCC has dubbed "Super Wi-Fi."

The FCC says the lower-frequency white spaces that can travel greater distances are ideal for mobile devices.

New Hanover County will be using those white spaces to expand its wireless network to more locations outdoors. It is set to deploy the Super Wi-Fi network at three public parks in the county beginning Jan. 26. The county will also make the network available to the town of Wilmington, N.C.

County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Jason Thompson said the expansion of the wireless network, which New Hanover is already offering in its public libraries, was a natural move given people's technology consumption habits. "As more and more people carry smart phones, tablets and things, we want to provide them some high-speed access like we do indoors now at our libraries," he said.

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