Call to Join Library Super Wi-Fi Pilot

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN) announced an open call to participate in a national pilot program to explore uses for newly available unlicensed spectrum called Super WiFi or White Space to support remote library Wi-Fi hotpsots in their communities.

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi, Super Wi-Fi (though currently capable of less data throughput) has advantages both in a range measured in miles and in its ability to pass through walls, trees and other obstructions. And yet like Wi-Fi, TVWS is also unlicensed radio spectrum, open and available to anyone with certified equipment to use with no fees or permissions attached.

This new resource could have dramatic impact similar to that of Wi-Fi itself, once considered throwaway “junk” spectrum, now essential technology supporting 5 billion devices worldwide.

After ten years in development, the FCC has only recently certified the equipment and services necessary for market deployment to begin. “Public Libraries seem well suited to take a national leadership role in evaluating the capabilities and limitations of Super Wi-Fi technologies for potential benefit to (millions of) library patrons,” says Don Means, GLN Coordinator.

Libraries Encouraged to Join Super Wi-Fi Pilot
More than 90 percent of US libraries already use unlicensed wireless spectrum (Wi-Fi) to provide no-fee Internet access to approximately 80 million people. In an effort to make library broadband more accessible to more patrons, GLN is inviting innovative, tech-savvy libraries and their communities to participate in a national Super Wi-Fi Pilot to explore the utility and usability of this exciting new communications technology to extend availability of traditional library Wi-Fi at more area locations.

Using the recently-announced “KC K-20 Libraries” Super Wi-Fi Pilot initiative in Kansas City, Kansas, as a template, GLN seeks more libraries in their role as natural community technology hubs to join in pursuing location-specific outcomes by running similar Super Wi-Fi projects in their area.

GLN is an open collaboration of tech innovating libraries cooperating as a distributed testbed and showcase environment for high performance applications and equipment that benefit from big bandwidth in the service of educational, civic and cultural objectives.

According to project supporter Jim Carlson of Carlson Wireless, “The capabilities of White Space or ‘Super WiFi’ technologies to deliver wireless connectivity through barriers such as trees, hills and buildings, combined with value of the internet will allow libraries to provide broadband access at remote and mobile library sites. Our RuralConnect product will also allow libraries to create cost effective, in-house networks that can help meet their growing bandwidth and information needs.”

Each qualifying library facility will receive a trial system including host a single Super Wi-Fi Base Station (BS) and three remote library Wi-Fi hotspots, all wirelessly connected to the BS. Each remote hotspot should be sited at a convenient public location to provide patrons a basic level of no-fee library Wi-Fi broadband access.

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.

“Libraries have served as a destination for those seeking basic Internet access for well over 25 years. The GLN's new Super WiFi initiative positions the library community at the leading edge of next generation broadband. Access to advanced collaboration technologies and services will further establish libraries as a key community resource for health and wellness, twenty-first century skills acquisition, and lifelong learning,” says project advisor Lev Gonick, CEO of One Community.

Organizations supporting the project: Adaptrum Inc., Carlson Wireless, iconectiv, Open Technology Institute/New American Foundation, Microsoft, The WhiteSpace Alliance, Internet2, NATOA, SHLB Coalition, Internet Archive, OneCommunity, Public Knowledge, CTC Networks, Spoton Networks and Keener Law Group.

Get Involved
Libraries interested in joining the pilot project are encouraged to register an Initial Statement of Interest (must sign into Google docs first).

Also join the conversation at GLN Community Blog.

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