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Seattle’s Super Wi-Fi

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 1, 2015
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Stuck with bad Internet? Not for long.

Microsoft has a new type of Wi-Fi—5,000 times faster than existing systems and able to handle 25,000 simultaneous users—and Seattle gets to try it first. The Seattle Center will test Microsoft’s first super Wi-Fi network, and Mayor Ed Murray is already talking about expanding it to other Seattle neighborhoods.

Super Wi-Fi works by taking advantage of TV “white space,” another name for the frequencies between channels. Super Wi-Fi fills those static-filled, unused TV frequencies with signals carrying the Internet, and because those frequencies travel farther and pass through walls better than traditional Wi-Fi, it’s doubly effective. So when thousands of people flood the Seattle Center for Bumbershoot and everyone tries to post Facebook updates and Instagram photos at the same time, now they can actually do it. Did we mention it’s also free?

This is exciting news for technology and the Seattle Center, but it gets better. Super Wi-Fi has the potential to help all of us here in Seattle. This pilot is part of a citywide program to improve public Wi-Fi throughout Seattle. According to Mayor Ed Murray, super Wi-Fi “may be deploy[ed] to other neighborhoods in the city.” Eventually, Microsoft wants to use this technology to give Wi-Fi to most of the entire world, including areas that have never before had access to the Internet, and Seattle could very well end up being the starting point.

And it’s not just Microsoft. Other tech giants like Google and Facebook are racing to develop their own versions of this technology. That’s more good news for us: Google has offices in Seattle, Fremont, and Kirkland, and Facebook recently confirmed that it’s expanding its Seattle offices. Whatever happens in the future of super Wi-Fi, it’ll probably involve Seattle.

Seattle homeowners and homebuyers, we have a bright, fast future ahead of us. If super Wi-Fi takes off, we could find ourselves riding the first wave of a giant Internet blast. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about it.


Note: To get the fastest Internet access, users at the Seattle Center currently need to log into the Wi-Fi network with a Microsoft account (or make one). GeekWire field-tested the pilot network’s actual Internet speed.