Feb 07 2013

Is Spray-On Wi-Fi a Solution to Bandwidth Issues on Campus?

This innovative approach to wireless Internet could be the future of web access.

Colleges are struggling to keep up with the enormous demand for bandwidth. Forty-one percent of college students have at least three devices connected to the Internet at any given time, and that number is increasing as smartphones and tablets proliferate. Because of this, colleges are laying the groundwork for huge wireless infrastructures they hope will be sufficient for the bandwidth demands of the future. Notably, Yale’s network has been reported to handle 34,000 devices daily, with 15,900 devices connected simultaneously at the peak. But will that be enough?

A company called Chamtech may have a solution to bandwidth troubles on campus and elsewhere, according to Wired:

Limited access is more than just an annoyance, it’s a mortal threat to innovation. By 2020, wireless technology is expected to have a global impact of $4.5 trillion. But growth depends on our ability to scale up. We need access that matches the number of devices demanding it.

Readily available Wi-Fi could help fix that problem. Internet and phone companies are already starting to deploy small cells—essentially tiny mobile phone towers that serve Wi-Fi along with 4G—in densely populated areas. But those companies have little incentive to build out the massive infrastructure required to connect the rest of the world.

One company has come up with a uniquely audacious solution—a Wi-Fi antenna in a spray can. Chamtech Enterprises has developed a liquid filled with millions of nano-capacitors, which when sprayed on a surface can receive radio signals better than a standard metal rod. With a router, Chamtech’s antennas can communicate with a fiber network, receive signals from targeted satellites, and set up a daisy chain with nearby nodes, potentially creating a mesh network of low-cost, broadband Wi-Fi hot spots. Because the antennas can be painted onto any surface, there would be none of the NIMBY-ism that greets every new cell phone tower.

Read 7 Massive Ideas That Could Change the World on Wired.

The number of devices on campus won’t be decreasing in the near future. As students continue to consume HD video content and engage with social networking sites, the need for bandwidth will rise. Wi-Fi spray is more than just a gimmick; it’s an innovative approach to solving a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.

We would love to hear how you are handling the demand for bandwidth on your campus. Let us know in the Comments section.