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Public ‘white space’ broadband demo set for Thurman Town Hall

Workers for Rainmaker Network Services install a 'white space' broadband receiver on a Thurman home as a part of a test effort in early 2013 preceding design of a network of transmitters over the countryside to bring reliable high-speed Internet access to the rural, hilly town. The system is now ready to be constructed, and initial tests indicated strong signals in the service area of the project's first phase. Two recent demonstrations have shown potential subscribers blazing fast upload and download speeds over a bandwidth that can accommodate various devices and operations simultaneously. A public demonstration of the broadband is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 14 at the Thurman Town Hall. Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood, one of the two people who launched Thurman's nationally acclaimed 'white space' broadband access project, has estimated that 80 to 90 Thurman homes could have 'white space' Internet access before fall 2014 — completing the first phase of an ongoing project to bring broadband to most of the unserved areas of town.

Workers for Rainmaker Network Services install a 'white space' broadband receiver on a Thurman home as a part of a test effort in early 2013 preceding design of a network of transmitters over the countryside to bring reliable high-speed Internet access to the rural, hilly town. The system is now ready to be constructed, and initial tests indicated strong signals in the service area of the project's first phase. Two recent demonstrations have shown potential subscribers blazing fast upload and download speeds over a bandwidth that can accommodate various devices and operations simultaneously. A public demonstration of the broadband is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 14 at the Thurman Town Hall. Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood, one of the two people who launched Thurman's nationally acclaimed 'white space' broadband access project, has estimated that 80 to 90 Thurman homes could have 'white space' Internet access before fall 2014 — completing the first phase of an ongoing project to bring broadband to most of the unserved areas of town.

— Thurman’s white-space project, featuring transmission over electromagnetic frequencies existing unused between old analog television channels, has received considerable regional and national attention.

Construction design of the first phase of a white space broadcast system was completed in the late fall, and it is expected to offer Internet access for up to 89 homes in the northwest area of Thurman. It is anticipated that in forthcoming phases of the project, wireless broadband will be extended to other areas of town that have no fast, reliable Internet service.

Plans call for the subscribing households to pay the operating cost of the system, and a figure of $45 to $50 per month has been cited as a tentative fee. Town leaders have noted that satellite costs $75 or more and is dependent on clear weather, has slow upload speeds as well as data caps and data “throttling” which can crimp productivity. With data caps, heavy broadband users on satellite pay far above their basic charges, while with white space, there are no data caps.

Wood has also said that plans may be offered to accommodate seasonal residents.

She said that the next phase of the white-space project is likely to expand broadband transmission down Valley Road and up Glen-Athol Road, as more grant funding is obtained.

“A lot of communities in the Adirondacks are watching what we can accomplish, and we want to set a good example,” she said. “For rural communities across the U.S., how to navigate that ‘last mile’ of broadband access is a big issue right now — and white space appears to be a really great solution not just for our community, but all the little towns in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.”

Wood said she and the board decided to host the public demonstration to assure local residents that white space technology would work well, in the face of rumors circulated that the technology is not viable.

“People want to know, can they stream videos, can they have fast downloads, can they obtain the service they need so their business can expand,” she said. “I’ve seen white space technology work well, and the board wants our residents to see the same thing.”

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