That’s why we’re so excited about the possibilities of a new pilot program called the Gigabit Libraries Network currently being (or soon to be) rolled out at public libraries in six states.
Technology is moving so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up with all the innovative ways internet access is being made available. For example, and pardon us if this gets too technical, the Gigabyte project brings wireless service to rural areas of America via an unused piece of the TV spectrum.
Back in 2010 the FCC realized that certain TV “white space” (unlicensed, low- frequency bands in the radio-frequency spectrum) would become available when TV broadcasters TV broadcasters moved from analog to digital signals. They called it “super wi-fi” because the lower frequency dramatically extends its range of typical wi-fi signals. The super wi-fi signals can be picked up for several miles and pass through walls and buildings (much like Superman can see through walls and buildings, hence the name).
If all works as expected, Super Wifi could bring free internet access to rural areas of the country that are overlooked by for-profit internet service.
Consider this: Every city, town and rural area in the country has a library. But in this digital age those libraries have been reevaluating their purpose and wondering if they had a raison d’etre in the years to come.
The Gigabyte project re-imagines those libraries as internet hubs. Fifty libraries applied to take part in the initial test and eight were eventually chosen — Delta County, Colorado; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Stokie, Illinois; Humboldt County, California; Kansas City, Lawrence, Manhattan and Topeka/Shawnee, Kansas; and eight libraries in New Hampshire. (One would have to conclude from the inclusion of Kansas City that they are also testing the efficacy of the program in urban areas).
Just imagine the possibilities if the Gigabyte project works as its proponents expect. We have approximately 15,000 libraries around the country that already offer short range Wi-Fi and approximately 1,500 that do not yet offer wifi access. Within a short period of time Super Wi-Fi will be everywhere and expensive monthly internet access fees will be a thing of the past. A whole new wi-fi world will open up to Americans.
In interest of full disclosure, Gigabyte says that Super Wi-Fi doesn’t fit the technical definition of “Wi-Fi”. Instead of getting lost in the technical weeds, we’d like to point out that it still functions on the same interoperable principles even if it doesn’t fit the strict definition.
The Gigabyte Libraries Network. We hope you’ll be able to check it out at a library near you soon.