It is ridiculous that in 2024, most Zimbabweans still don’t connect to any WiFi network any time of the day. In more developed countries, it’s WiFi connection after WiFi connection in urban areas, with most of them free too.
Why don’t most Zimbabwean restaurants offer free WiFi? – for example. It’s too expensive, the demand is too great such that it would be bogged down by free loaders, etc. There are so many reasons.
Well, we will have to wait for a fix for some of those problems but for now, we can look at some promising developments in WiFi tech.
Long range WiFi is coming. There’s a company called Morse Micro that has been experimenting with a new WiFi standard that allows for long range WiFi – the 900MHz Wi-Fi HaLow standard.
Morse Micro released a video demonstrating just how impressive this WiFi is. They were able to get a usable wireless signal at a 3km range. My friend, you should know that 4G cell towers have a range of 3 to 6.5km.
So, this WiFi standard allows for WiFi at comparable ranges to good old mobile networks.
That is wild to consider, if I could connect to a WiFi network 3km away, I could stay connected to my home WiFi even at my local shopping complex. Or my church, or some other places I frequent. That is ridiculous.
Before you get your hopes up, while they demonstrated that you can get a usable signal at 3km, the limitations of WiFi still hold. It will not compete with mobile networks when it comes to number of people served by a single router.
If you’re working with a home WiFi network which is certified for less than 10 users, you won’t be opening an internet cafe serving people in a 3km radius with the HaLow standard.
The speeds that HaLow can manage are impressive. Morse Micro carried out a video call at various distance intervals, measuring the average speed as they went. They were able to get 1Mbps at 3km.
The announced data rates of the HaLow standard were between 150 kbps and 78 Mbps.
My friend, most times we don’t get that from our mobile networks. However, do not expect that your TelOne ADSL connection which can’t muster up 1Mbps even when you’re sat right next to the router will magically deliver 1Mbps to you when you’re 3km away from home.
Morse Micro’s test was carried out on a stretch of an empty beach but the beachfront had many buildings which interfered with the signal. So, they say it was a good demonstration of what we can expect in the real world.
I know that entrepreneurs among us are already brainstorming ways to use the 3km range. Maybe you could share a WiFi connection with your neighbours, pool funds and get an unlimited connection serving the houses in your Close.
There’s more that can be done with a 3km range. Let’s hope the standard is finalised and is released soon.