Accessing Wireless Broadband Underground
Most mobile devices, including mobile phones, smart phones and laptops, have wireless broadband capability, allowing their users to access the internet from virtually anywhere – in theory. In actuality, however, there is a gap between the capabilities of the devices and the functionality of wireless networks. One of the most prominent illustrations of this predicament is the inaccessibility of mobile broadband when travelling underground on subways.
In 2006, over 30 million people around the world bought smart phones, a number that continues to rise each year, but what use is a smart phone if it cannot reach its full potential? Subways and busses are the top locations for mobile device usage, so it is becoming a central concern that cities begin to meet their needs.
A solution seems to have presented itself. WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), a new telecommunications technology which provides users with the ability to transmit data wirelessly, is currently being tested in locations with high underground travel rates, such as Seoul, Baltimore and Atlanta. While American cities have yet to realize WiMax’s usefulness, Korea has taken full advantage of this new technology.
Seoul, South Korea, has one of the most efficient WiMax networks in the world, with almost every corner of the city having been equipped with mobile WiMax coverage. Anyone with a smart phone or a laptop can access the internet from anywhere in the city, including from underground locations. Throughout their subway system WiBro (wireless broadband) transmitters are installed at 400-metre intervals, allowing commuters to surf the web from their mobile devices at broadband speeds upwards of 4mbps.