Gigabit Libraries Network moves forward on whitespace broadband pilot


Earlier this summer, CivSource reported on a new initiative to expand the use TV White Space broadband through libraries. TV White Space broadband relies on vacant TV channel spectrum for data transfer, and can then extend broadband signal as far as TV signal. The technology could be a game changer for rural populations or populations with geographical challenges. Regulators in the US and abroad are quickly allowing more TV White Space projects (sometimes incorrectly called Super Wi-Fi), in an effort to build out broadband access.

Once these allowances began, the Gigabit Libraries Network put out an open call to public libraries asking them to utilize their TV White Space broadband and create networks. Today, at the Super WiFi Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada the organization announced it has reached its goal.

More than 50 library systems and consortia submitted proposals from across the country. Of those 50, six are now getting equipment to start on their projects. These libraries will have TV White Space enabled remote access points on their “e-bookmobiles,” which will allow them to create public access points in their communities.

The first test group of six puts Whitespace enabled devices at libraries in each region of the country. The next step will be to add more access sites. The pilot itself and the selection criteria grew out of a local wireless initiative of the Kansas City K-20 Librarians Consortium,in May.

“The fact that we received many proposals from state level consortia on such a tight timeline demonstrates that there’s not only a readiness to address urgent connectivity shortcomings but also a willingness to innovate by public libraries in all parts of the country,” said GLN Coordinator Don Means.

Participating libraries will have the option to purchase the gear used in the pilots at the end of trial. The first six states to have Whitespace enabled library wifi programs will be California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, and New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire project will be a partnership with that state’s Broadband Center of Excellence (BCoE) leading a statewide collaboration – including the New Hampshire Library Association and NH FastRoads – to deploy white space systems in rural parts of the state. GLN will also work with the Center of Excellence on a “Libraries Whitespace Lab,” to explore emerging applications and related system issues effecting libraries nationwide.