The Gigabit Libraries Network is looking for at least half a dozen rural libraries to participate in a trial of WiFi hotspots that use TV white spaces for Internet connectivity. The GLN aims to announce participating pilot projects at the Super Wi-Fi Summit in Las Vegas in late August, with deployment occurring in September, said GLN Coordinator Don Means in an email to Telecompetitor.
Libraries will get the use of the white spaces equipment until the end of year and will have the option of purchasing it when the year is up, Means said.
According to its website, GLN “is developing as a global relationship network and open collaboration of gig-ready and ‘gig-aspiring’ 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.”
TV white spaces equipment, sometimes known as Super Wi-Fi, operates in vacant TV broadcast spectrum and provides excellent range, even when line of sight communications is not possible. Wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) already have deployed TV white spaces equipment in some rural areas. In addition, the technology will support the Air.U initiative aimed at bringing high-speed wireless Internet to university communities. Just today West Virginia University became the first in the U.S. to have an operational TV white spaces network.
The exact speeds and distances that TV white spaces technology can support vary depending on a variety of factors, including the equipment manufacturer and the number of users sharing spectrum. One California ISP is using equipment from Carlson Wireless to support service at rates of 3 Mbps per customer over distances of up to five miles, with 15 customers sharing a base station.
Libraries selected to participate in GLN’s white spaces trial will receive a base station and three hotspots. The base station will connect to a landline broadband connection supporting an incremental data rate of 10 to 15 Mbps per white spaces channel and will communicate wirelessly with the hotspots. The hotspots “should be sited at a convenient public location to provide patrons a basic level of no-fee library Wi-Fi broadband access,” GLN said in an announcement of the planned trials.
Asked who will install the equipment, Means said: “This will be part of each proposal plan. In some cases it could be a library or city IT [department]. Might be a research and education network as the existing library ISP. Could be a local WISP wanting to be part of a highly visible local project in their market area.”
Goals of the trial, Means said, include testing the utility of the new technology and raising awareness of the TV white spaces option.
Libraries interested in participating are invited to register an Initial Statement of Interest by using a link set up by Gigabit Libraries Network.
Organizations supporting the TV white spaces library trial include Carlson Wireless, Adaptrum Inc., iconnective, Open Technology Institute/ New American Foundation, Internet2, Internet Archive, OneCommunity, CTC Networks, Spoton Networks and Keener Law Group.