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Free Super Wifi Mooted. Will this kill off telcos?

Haha. I have been talking on this blog about how new technologies will have limit telecom’s influence on things.

It makes entrants much easier as costs are lower. IDA would have liked that as more competition is beneficial to the public.

We have already seen MyRepublic and ViewQuest benefiting the consumers.

Free Super Wifi

Enter Super Wifi. A plan by the US FCC to use the whitespace used by the TV spectrum to create a crazily large WIFI zone that you can do anything.

According to ZDNet’s Stephen Vaughn-Nichols, Super Wi-Fi is, surprisingly, not some kind of miraculous new technology, but is actually an idea that’s been kicking around for close to ten years now. It refers to the unused ‘white space’ spectrum in the 600MHz bandwidth, which is far more powerful than the broadband and 4G LTE spectrum offered by carriers today. Currently this white space isn’t being used, but the FCC is preparing to auction it off to television networks and carriers in the near future, reserving some of (what it terms ‘guard bands’) for “unlicensed devices” which would constitute the Super Wi-Fi network.

Google is a supporter. Go to and see how crazy their Google Fiber is compare to US telecoms.

This spectrum is wide covering and good speed

For those that know frequency should know that different range of it suits different uses and different levels of attenuation.

Vaughn-Nichols explains that the most fundamental issue is the sheer power of this new 600MHz spectrum. The range of 600MHz access points is astonishing by today’s standards – about 12 miles, on average – while bandwidth speeds would be somewhere in the range of 20Mbps down and 6Mbps up. Of course, these speeds would vary quite a bit depending on how many thousands of users are tapping into these access points, but the potential of Super Wi-Fi is all too evident.

The carriers are not happy!

The Washington Post reports that AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and chip-maker Qualcomm have now stepped up their lobbying efforts in a bid to put the brakes on the Super Wi-Fi plan. Readers might be surprised to hear that Qualcomm is so anti-Super Wi-Fi, but when one considers that its new Snapdragon chips integrate LTE functionality, it’s clear that it considers the success of 4G as being crucial to its future.

Unfortunately for them, Google of all companies, stands in their way. The internet’s biggest company insists that Super Wi-Fi would benefit the vast majority of the population and spark an explosion of innovation, but what it doesn’t talk about is the massive financial opportunity that would fall into its grasp. Whether it’s through traditional search or through some other innovative means, such as free phone calls and/or broadcasting via Google Hangouts, the possibilities for expanding its advertising network are unimaginably large.

Given the political influence that Google has, not to mention its financial muscle, one might think that carriers really are staring down the barrel of a gun. But the future is far from clear-cut, with numerous hurdles to overcome before Super Wi-Fi becomes a reality.

Will this come over to Singapore

I guess it depends a lot on the motivations of IDA and how they want to drive this. IDA looks to side with the local telecoms on this profit driven motive.

The 3 telecom have not provided good service, though I fear it could be the dynamics of this dense and compact city.

The next question is that what are we doing with our whitespace? Did we utilize that?

Singapore already have a free Wireless SG and there are possibility after NBN for the government to do something like that.

The profitability of the big three will be affected if Viewquest or MyRepublic  or another entrant for the matter is able to make use of the lower cost of doing business.

You just need margins to go down a few percentage points to lose you 4-5% telecom dividends.

My word of advice is that telecom operators at this price have more moat destruction then opportunity.


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Friday 15th of February 2013

If the cost is lower, why telecoms can't benefit from it? They can also bid for it and provide lower cost service and possible higher margin of profit. Right?


Saturday 16th of February 2013

Hi John, you may be right. But the incumbents have seldom been known to reduce their margins. they have no reason to do so since they have their comfortable market share.

They can make use of super wifi to extend coverage, but when you have something available freely, it provides an alternative for lower income to consider not paying so much for the main plan.

It becomes a problem if they bid for it because they got a QOS to contend with and they cannot charge for it.


Thursday 7th of February 2013

I guess if this really happen, then the 3 telco will definetely suffer :p bad for shareholders, but good for consumers :)


Friday 8th of February 2013

which is why i think IDA may not be aggressive on this.


Thursday 7th of February 2013

yeah. long time.. Wireless@SG, I think the CFC is already active for phase2. But still support the idea of super good wifi :)


Friday 8th of February 2013

hi komatineni, what is CFC?


Wednesday 6th of February 2013

used for tv/media broadcast. the idea is good in emerging countries but singapore may not benefit a lot.

Especially given the eco system changes required at end user. Ofcourse the cost benefit part is critical too. People can get 10$ plans for mobile broadband @5 Mbps+ which is way cheaper compared to US or AU.


Wednesday 6th of February 2013

Hi komatineni,

long time no see.i think the IDA are together with the 3 telcos. but not totally. but they could very well expand that wireless sg on this.

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