WVU harnesses white space for broadband


TabletsActing FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and Senate Commerce Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) hailed a new program instituted by West Virginia University that utilizes an unused TV channel to deliver internet access to students.

The program is being put in place in collaboration with the Advanced Internet Regions consortium, bringing broadband access not only to the school’s students but to all citizens within range of the service near the WVU campus. In its initial phase, it is tied to the university’s public transportation system, with internet access provided at its Public Rapid Transit platforms.

Explained WVU Chief Information Officer John Campbell, “Not only does the AIR.U deployment improve wireless connectivity for the PRT System, but also demonstrates the real potential of innovation and new technologies to deliver broadband coverage and capacity to rural areas and small towns to drive economic development and quality of life, and to compete with the rest of the world in the knowledge economy. This may well offer a solution for the many West Virginia communities where broadband access continues to be an issue,” Campbell said, “and we are pleased to be able to be a test site for a solution that may benefit thousands of West Virginians.”

Clyburn added, “Innovative deployment of TV white spaces presents an exciting opportunity for underserved rural and low-income urban communities across the country. 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.  This pilot will not only demonstrate how TV white space technologies can help bridge the digital divide, but also could offer valuable insights into how best to structure future deployments.”

“As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I have made promoting high-speed Internet deployment throughout West Virginia, and around the nation, a priority,” said Rockefeller. “That is why I am excited by today’s announcement of the new innovative wireless broadband initiative on West Virginia University’s campus.“Wireless broadband is an important part of bringing the economic, educational, and social benefits of broadband to all Americans.”