WASHINGTON, July 1, 2013 – On Monday the Gigabit Libraries Network announced a pilot project that will equip libraries across the country with a new technology dubbed “super Wi-Fi.”
The Gigabit Libraries Network will undergo a selection process to choose which libraries will be included in the program. Those selected will receive a base station to be installed in the library, and three remote hot spots wirelessly connected to the base station that can be placed throughout the community in locations convenient for the public.
The trial will end at the end of the year, and libraries will be given the option to purchase the equipment.
Like Wi-Fi, super Wi-Fi functions using a range of frequencies for which transmitters and receivers do not enjoy exclusive licenses. Another way of describing the usage is through “white spaces,” or the unused frequencies in the broadcast television band. Super Wi-Fi is superior to traditional Wi-Fi in its range.
Additionally, super Wi-Fi is much better at penetration physical barriers. While some users have recorded extremely high ranges, Gigabit Library Network officials offer a more conservative estimate for the super Wi-Fi pilot program will be implementing.
“We’re not making any claims beyond a few miles,” said Don Means, coordinator for the program.
Means believes that high speeds are not the biggest priority. Basic functions such as e-mail and loading web pages can be performed at fairly lowly speeds.
“The value of the first megabit per second is much higher than that of the next 99 megabits,” he said.
Participants in the program will be given a great deal of freedom in order to facilitate creative use of the technology. Means mentioned one library that plans to install one of the remote statins in a book mobile, creating a travelling hot spot.
“That’s the kind of idea we’re looking for to emerge and not preordain,” he said.
The network hopes to see what sort of benefits can be reaped through the implementation of this technology in a community. Libraries are a logical starting point since they are already information centers, with 80 million Americans utilizing the internet services they provide, said Means.
He also noted that schools could also be suitable locations for such technology, particularly in regions not served by libraries.
Means also hopes that this super Wi-Fi could help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities. Much like the introduction of traditional Wi-Fi, super Wi-Fi may spur innovations that can be applied to other areas of telecommunications as well.
“This is just another area where inventive engineers can come up with ideas that work well in white space and licensed spectrum as well,” he said.