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Gigabit Libraries Network Unveils Super Wi-Fi Project to Spur Wireless Connectivity to Libraries

in Wireless by

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.

FCC Opens Up White Space For Unrestricted Uses

in FCC/National Broadband Plan/Spectrum/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2010 – In a unanimous vote, the Federal Communications Commission approved the use of the “white spaces” for unlicensed uses. The white spaces are the band of spectrum now empty after television signals went digital. These bands offer some of the best promulgation characteristics and are available nationwide.

This is the first release of unlicensed spectrum in 20 years. The uses for this spectrum are endless but the most promising is a product being called “super Wi-Fi.”

In a limited trial, Microsoft used the whitespace to provide Wi-Fi using two transmitters to cover their 500 acre campus in Redmond, Wash. This project would have normally required the use of thousands of traditional transmitters.

In deference to wireless microphones, the commission has set aside two channels nationwide for use by these devices.

In a statement of support, Commissioner Michael Copps said: “Throughout the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I have emphasized the countless ways that transformative broadband technology intersects with nearly all aspects of our everyday lives. The opportunities created by white space technologies are endless: whether it’s increasing the reach of broadband to unserved and underserved populations, including tribal lands; whether it’s giving local governments tools for implementing smart city, eco-friendly wireless applications; whether it’s providing robust wireless coverage for school children, inside and outside the classroom. The possibilities are just about limitless.”

Baker Highlights the Use of White Space in Innovation

in FCC/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2010 – With Spectrum playing a large role in the National Broadband Plan one of the biggest sources for open spectrum is the White space which was created by the recent DTV transition. Yesterday FCC Commissioner Baker addressed the TV White Spaces Summit.

Commissioner Baker reiterated the Commissions belief that spectrum is the best resource for broadband expansion and innovation. She did however lament the inaction by the FCC on the issue: “I find it a little ironic, and a little regretful, that other regulators, notably in the EU, as well as in countries like Singapore, are poised to act in an area where we once took the lead but have not been able to act since.”

She then went onto describe a number of projects which use spectrum including the Smart City project; which involves the remote reading of utilities.

The commissioner also emphasized the need for an inventory, “We need to start with a spectrum inventory—we don’t need to wait for Congress, so I hope we get started with that soon.  We need an innovative, interactive and user-friendly data base that will not only serve the TV white spaces but also other spectrum bands, including government spectrum and NATO bands.” 

Senators Urge FCC Take Action on White Space

in National Broadband Plan/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2010 – Yesterday Senators Kerry and Snowe sent a letter to the FCC urging them to open up the white space created after the DTV transition. They believe that this spectrum needs to be opened to help support the National Broadband Plan.

“The heart of the FCC’s broadband plan focuses on releasing the full potential of the nation’s spectrum as a platform for innovation and expanded low cost broadband,” said Senator Kerry.

Due to the high quality of the white space it is one of the best resources for wireless broadband.  The letter states: “TV white spaces remain a viable option for unlicensed use below 1 GHz and jump-starting a period of innovation that could equal or surpass what we have seen with Wi-Fi.  Due to the propagation characteristics of the frequencies, unlicensed broadband devices will be able to cover a far wider service area in rural areas than the range in which unlicensed devices operate today thus providing an opportunity to narrow the “digital divide” that unfortunately continues to exist.”

Senator Snow also stated  “The ‘white spaces’ spectrum provides an opportunity to reach these Americans and further bridge the ‘digital divide’ that unfortunately continues to exist today.”

Convergence Will Complicate Regulation, Definition of '4G,' State Regulators Told

in Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2009 – With $7.2 billion in stimulus funds soon to be available for broadband service – and with the transition to digital television freeing huge swaths of spectrum – wireless communication could be poised for some technological advances.

Wireless providers are engaged in a rush to deploy next-generation mobile networks as more Americans “cut the cord” from their wired phone and internet services, posing unique challenges for state regulators.

For state regulatory commissioners gathered for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions winter meeting, defining and regulating the so-called “4G” networks will pose unique challenges.

The convergence of mobile devices and the Internet has made the definition of 4G services “nebulous at best,” Fierce Markets strategic advisor Carl Ford told the group during a presentation on Saturday morning. Showing a slide of a Wikipedia definition of 4G, Ford took issue with the common assumption that the term is simply an extension of current wireless technology.

Internet protocol-based applications and services will dominate the next generation of wireless, regardless of the frequencies or underlying technology used, Ford said.

The “Long Term Evolution” technology touted by Verizon Communications and AT&T, for example, will probably achieve “total dominance” by 2015, Ford said. Clearwire’s WiMax technology will end up being an “island by itself” in the evolution of wireless networks, he said. But whether either service constitutes 4G service is debatable, he said, since “the Internet is coming to wireless.”

WiMax is “viable and has its own purpose,” said Ford. He said LTE is more of a continuation of the current cellular business model. Fixed WiMax has the potential to provide backhaul capacity to remote areas, he said. And while telecommunications industry observers say that LTE will eventually be king, Ford made it clear that “the battle has yet to be won.”

The marketplace is far from a two-horse race, Ford said. Though the FCC has not yet finalized rules on usage, Ford predicted that so-called “white space” devices – which transmit on frequencies occupying the vacant spaces between television channels – have the potential to service “a bunch of end points.”

Even Femtocells, small cellular receivers like Sprint Nextel’s AirRave and Verizon’s Extender, will be “reach extenders” for next generation networks, he said.

But as wireless becomes the choice for increasing numbers of consumers, many of the old rules governing telephone service and other utilities are starting to come back, Ford said. Providing services for the public good isn’t easy.

Internet protocol networks are nothing new to telecommunications services, Ford said. All telephone calls are transmitted over internet protocol at some point, he said. “Why shouldn’t the Internet impact wireless in the same way?”

But at the end of the day, Ford said that consumers “simply want the mobility that [next-generation services] will provide.” He predicted future devices will be able to provide all the services of the current mobile networks, but on IP-based networks. Whether or not the networks — “dumb pipes” — provide new opportunities is up to the initiative of application developers, he said.

Even now, the Internet is the “killer platform” driving current 3G devices and services, he said. And as the next generation of devices is unveiled, he said, prices for equipment will drop. “We will all have them,” he said.

And as devices become commonplace, more music, video, and payment services content – features that have been available in other countries for years – will be common features of the American wireless networks.

Regulators should beware of localities imposing taxes on these new services, he said, pointing to some California municipalities’ tax on Vonage phone service as an example of bad policymaking.

The broadband stimulus bill will certainly lead to more jobs and more access, Ford said. He cautioned the group of state regulators to be wary of interposing themselves between these new services and the market. Instead, Ford suggested that state regulatory commissions should be more concerned with ensuring consumer protection than regulating quality of service issues.

The federal government’s national broadband strategy gave Ford “high expectations” for future programs.

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