West Virginia University (WVU) recently announced plans to use vacant broadcast TV channels for wireless broadband services with its TV white space (TVWS) test network.
The network will offer free, public Internet access at Wi-Fi hotspots for students and faculty at WVU's Public Rapid Transit (PRT) platforms. In the future, the functionality will be expanded to add public Wi-Fi access on the PRT cars and machine-to-machine wireless data links for the transit system's control functions.
To create the TVWS network, WVU partnered with the AIR.U consortium, which is affiliated with the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation and includes organizations that represent more than 500 colleges and universities.
This novel use of TVWS "presents an exciting opportunity for underserved rural and low-income urban communities across the country," says acting Federal Communications Commission chair Mignon Clyburn. She says the program "will not only demonstrate how TV white space technologies can help bridge the digital divide, but it also could offer valuable insights into how best to structure future deployments."
Hundreds of rural and small-town colleges and communities will follow WVU's lead in using TVWS spectrum to bring broadband to underserved areas, says New America Foundation's Michael Calabrese.
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