The Gigabit Libraries Network is soliciting interest from public libraries interested in leveraging TV white space (TVWS) spectrum to extend their reach to more locations.
GLN contends that because more than 90 percent of U.S. libraries already use Wi-Fi to provide free Internet access to some 80 million people, the libraries are in a position to leverage TVWS as last-mile backhaul support for remote and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in their communities. Though TVWS technologies are not based on Wi-Fi standards, GLN refers to TVWS by the increasingly popular, though technically inaccurate, moniker of "Super Wi-Fi" that was coined by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
"The Super Wi-Fi Pilot will examine how integrating these two wireless communication technologies can benefit library users by combining the near universal compatibility of Wi-Fi with the range and penetrating capabilities of Super Wi-Fi," said the group, which is described as a "global relationship network and open collaboration of gig-ready and 'gig-aspiring' libraries."
"Public libraries seem ideally situated to take a national leadership role in evaluating the capabilities and limitations of Super Wi-Fi technologies for potential benefit to the [tens] of millions of patrons already depending on wireless access from their libraries," said Don Means, GLN coordinator. Means is also co-founder of consultancy Digital Village Associates in Sausalito, CA and initiator of the national Fiber to the Library (FTTL) project.
Each qualifying library facility will receive a trial system including a TVWS base station and three remote library Wi-Fi hotspots, all wirelessly connected to the base station. Means told FierceBroadbandWireless that GLN hopes to announce at least a half dozen libraries as TVWS base station recipients by the end of August.
"The pilot period will run from the announcement of the actual participating sites at the end of August at the 'Super Wi-Fi Summit' through end of year," said Means. He said participating libraries will be given an option to purchase the equipment at the end of the trial.
The template for GLN's TVWS pilot program is a "KC K-20 Libraries" Super Wi-Fi Pilot initiative announced last month in Kansas City, Kan. Means is advising on that project as well.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a supporter of the initiative. The company and its rival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are among the high-profile backers of TVWS pilots worldwide.
Other organizations supporting the GLN project include Adaptrum, Carlson Wireless, iconectiv, Open Technology Institute/New American Foundation, Internet2, NATOA, SHLB (pending), Internet Archive, OneCommunity, CTC Networks, Spoton Networks and Keener Law Group.
Adaptrum, Carlson and Microsoft are among 23 companies and organizations that last month formed the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance to promote regulatory policies favorable to the use of TVWS in expanding broadband availability.
- see this GLN release
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