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WRAN (wireless regional area network)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Wireless regional area network (WRAN) is a networking technology that uses underutilized parts of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum to provide Internet connectivity for homes and businesses, particularly in underserved areas.

While Wi-Fi coverage typically extends only a few blocks, WRAN uses wireless signals in the 400 to 700Mhz range, which enable greater range and penetration of obstacles. A customer premise equipment (CPE) device for WRAN can connect to an  ISP  (Internet service provider) network at ranges over 33 kilometers and as far as 100 km in exceptional cases.

WRAN also features cognitive radio capabilities, enabling access points to negotiate with one another to avoid interference better than existing wireless technologies. WRAN is particularly well suited to rural use where both broadband service and interfering radio frequencies are less common. WRAN may make impacts on the use of more expensive and less effective ways of connecting to the Internet, such as mobile data and satellite Internet.

The unused spectrum, known as white space, was left vacant by the discontinuation of analog broadcast television.  The underused frequencies (470-710Mhz) previously reserved for TV signals were made available for unlicensed use by a decision of the FCC in September 2010. The FCC’s decision made the 54 to 862 MHz range available for residential and business networking and the IEEE 802.11af and 802.22 working groups developed White Space Wi-Fi and WRAN (respectively) to operate in that range. White Space Wi-Fi, also known as White-Fi, is expected to make mobile data more affordable.

See a tutorial on white space networking:

This was last updated in June 2016

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