Rural University Towns to Get Wi-Fi Network
Author: John Duckgeischel on June 27, 2012 - 12:08 AM
A consortium of higher education associations, tech companies and public interest groups have joined together to bring Wi-Fi access to rural university towns. The consortium named AIR.U will leverage under-utilized television spectrum to bring wireless broadband service to rural colleges and universities and nearby communities. Expanded coverage will take advantage of television white spaces which are common in rural regions to push wireless signals further with better signal coverage inside buildings than regular Wi-Fi service.
Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New American Foundation’s Open Technology Institute said that in some rural universities as much a 70 percent of the television spectrum is unused. For example, the community near the University of Maine has 156MHz of “the very best spectrum” available. "We believe these pilot networks will demonstrate a very cost-effective way to upgrade university and community connectivity," Calabrese added. The AIR.U consortium represents over 500 colleges and universities and includes both Google and Microsoft as founding members. The pilot projects will be funded by founding partners. Louis Segesvary, a director of public affairs with the Appalachian Regional Commission stated that super Wi-Fi will be an economic boost to rural communities. "In this global economy and this shrinking world, broadband is essential to economic development," Segesvary commented. "It's essential to education, it's essential to business, it's essential to trade, all forms of commerce, whether local or global."
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