Starting from next month, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) will begin testing an experimental way to provide wireless high-speed internet access across several miles via TV-style signals, a technology officials hope will offer an inexpensive solution to the problem of scarce broadband access in rural areas.
The New Hampshire experiment will involve two transmitters: one at UNH in Durham connected to four nearby libraries and a second in the North Country. It should begin in mid-October and run through the end of the year, Yassini said, adding that details will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
The project comes as federal and state officials wrestle with the problem of helping remote areas connect to the internet at high speeds.
“This new, innovative technology is reliable. It is low-cost. It is emerging around the globe,” said Rouzbeh Yassini, executive director of UNH’s Broadband Center of Excellence, during a meeting yesterday with the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.
The prospects for using an abandoned stretch of the TV spectrum to bring wireless service to rural areas will get an extensive test in the months ahead, as the Gigabit Libraries Network pilots Super WiFi at public libraries in six states. Super WiFi uses unlicensed, low-frequency bands in the radio-frequency spectrum — called TV white space — that were opened up by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010 after TV broadcasters switched from analog to all-digital signals. The lower frequency limits throughput but greatly extends its range compared with established WiFi signals, allowing signals that can go for several miles and pass through walls and buildings. It’s seen as a potential solution for bringing wireless service to underserved, mostly rural, areas.
The Lawrence Public Library has been selected as one of four Kansas libraries to participate in a futuristic wireless Internet pilot program with the national Gigabit Libraries Network. For four months, participating libraries will test TV White Space technology or “Super WiFi,” which delivers Internet bandwidth across the same frequency used on analog televisions.
Photo Credit: Claudio Montesano Casillas