Paonia's Grand Avenue now has free Wi-Fi service, thanks to the Delta County Library District's new technology.
Literally just days before the government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission licensed the district to be one of five libraries nationwide to test drive the new Super Wi-Fi technology which uses "TV whitespace" radio spectrum that became available when TV broadcasting moved from analog to digital.
This technology trial is sponsored by the Gigabit Libraries Network in conjunction with Carlson Wireless, the equipment manufacturer.
As a trial, the library district has activated a public Wi-Fi hotspot on Grand Avenue in Paonia so the public can access the Internet from the town core as well as from the library itself. Coverage extends a block or so up and down Grand Avenue.
The library is using the Super Wi-Fi technology to extend the Internet connectivity from the Paonia library on Third Street to the downtown Grand Avenue corridor. Super Wi-Fi uses "TV whitespace" frequency spectrum in the UHF band. The FCC plans to make this spectrum available in an "unlicensed" category in the future. When the FCC has done this previously, a huge wave of innovation has followed. Examples of the products that have resulted are things such as CB radios, garage door openers, cordless phones, baby monitors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even microwave ovens. The FCC believes this technology offers a way to extend wireless Internet services in rural areas where buildings, hills and trees exist. Radio waves on these frequencies are able to penetrate foliage and diffract to some degree around obstacles. This capability has been made practical with the availability of specialized electronic chips that are capable of supporting the exotic modulation schemes needed to allow megabit per second network speeds across these UHF frequencies. The library district thanks Ed Marston, owner of the Harvester Building, for hosting the antennas and equipment.