The buzz about Super Wi-Fi is spreading rapidly across the country. You’d probably expect Stanford or MIT to become the nation’s first Super Wi-Fi campus. But that honor goes to West Virginia University. It’s the first university in the United States to provide the campus and nearby areas with wireless broadband Internet services via vacant broadcast television spectrum.
The first phase of WVU’s Super Wi-Fi network is especially interesting. Because instead of beginning the network on campus, it is being introduced on the city’s public transit platforms, which serve more than 15,000 riders per day. In other words, the nation’s first Super Wi-Fi network will demonstrate how the university can provide free internet for an audience far beyond the friendly confines of the campus.
“This may well offer a solution for the many West Virginia communities where broadband access continues to be an issue,” WVU Chief Information Officer John Campbell said, “and we are pleased to be able to be a test site for a solution that may benefit thousands of West Virginians.”
It must be a good idea, because politicians were quick to take credit. United States Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation said, “As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I have made promoting high-speed Internet deployment throughout West Virginia, and around the nation, a priority. That is why I am excited by today’s announcement of the new innovative wireless broadband initiative on West Virginia University’s campus.
Those taking credit are not restricted to elected officials. For example, Mignon Clyburn, acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, was effusive in his praise.
””Innovative deployment of TV white spaces presents an exciting opportunity for underserved rural and low-income urban communities across the country,” she said. “I commend AIR.U and West Virginia University on launching a unique pilot program that provides campus-wide Wi-Fi services using TV white space devices.
But what about the project’s technology partners? As you might expect, they are excited about the potential being demonstrated in West Virginia.
“Microsoft was built on the idea that technology should be accessible and affordable to everyone, and today access to a broadband connection is becoming increasingly important.” said Paul Mitchell, general manager/technology policy, at Microsoft. “White spaces technology and efficient spectrum management have a huge potential for expanding affordable broadband access in underserved areas and we are pleased to be partnering with AIR.U and West Virginia University on this new launch.”
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼In addition to Microsoft, the other founding partners include Google, the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Declaration Networks Group, LLC, a new firm established to plan, deploy and operate Super Wi-Fi networks.
We’re just as excited about the potential of Super Wi-Fi as everyone who’s involved in the West Virginia pilot program. We’re confident that it will prove to be a low-cost, scalable way to bring high speed wireless internet access to rich and poor in towns and cities across the fruited plain.
We can’t wait to see how it all rolls out.