Wireless Internet Reviews

Wi-Fi hotspots face interference from household gadgets

by Joe on May 12, 2009

Over the past few weeks and months we’ve seen a slew of companies adopt Wi-Fi in some form or another. Whether it’s an airline, a bus company, or a broadband provider, everyone seems to be hopping on the bandwagon. We’re becoming an increasingly mobile nation, and Wi-Fi seems like the easiest way to gain Internet access, despite the limited range of hotspots. Yet the technology isn’t without issues. As we’ve recently found out, baby monitors and other household wireless gadgets can interfere with Wi-Fi signal. It was previously thought that the condensed nature of the networks was the reason for slow signals.

The heart of the issue is the unlicensed nature of the 2.4GHz band, on which both baby monitors and Wi-Fi operate. This band is important precisely because it gives gadget developers some spectrum to work with, rather than having to jump through regulatory hoops in order to create and test their product. Yet the results of this test call into question this lack of regulation.

“A plethora of radio types, which are not all designed via standardisation processes, means that peaceful co-existence does not arise organically. Co-existence must be enforced by some means if LE bands are to be shared effectively.”

This issue touches home. I’ve forever been switching Wi-Fi channels, as every once in a while I’ll simply get no connection. Everyone has told me that it’s because my block is basically one contiguous building. However, the results of this report place the blame on the two young couples living below me. So clearly I’d like to see something done about this, but that’s just from a selfish perspective.

When constructing regulation it is important to ensure the ease of innovation is not disrupted. If governments introduce policies which inhibit wireless device makers by regulating a previously unregulated spectrum, it could create all sorts of speed bumps which creators must hurdle. In other words, it places unfavorable restrictions on people who are creating and innovating. Not that the spectrum should remain blindly unregulated. But to conduct one survey and conclude that regulation is necessary is, in my opinion, a bit far-fetched.

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