Intel is working on a form of long-distance Wi-Fi, which would allow users to get signals within a 100-kilometer radius. According to Intel Research Berkeley director Eric Brewer, the technology uses “regular Wi-Fi hardware but with modified software.” The new technology is intended for emerging markets, where communications systems remain lacking in villages. Intel plans to carry out a trial of long-range Wi-Fi in Uganda later this year.
The technology requires that signals be transmitted from one antenna to another and not anywhere else. Because it demands perfect alignment of antennas, generating signals is difficult. To address this issue, Intel came out a “steerable” antenna, which uses an electrical signal to guide signals between towers and maintain signal integrity even if physical antennas misalign.
Though somehow similar to WiMax, long-range WiFi antennas are cheaper than WiMax towers, with the former only costing between $700 and $800 apiece whereas the price of the latter would range from $15,000 to $20,000 each.