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.
A public demonstration of “white space” broadband access technology is to be conducted at 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 14 at the Thurman Town Hall, the town board announced this week.
The demonstration is expected to feature computers and other electronic devices at the town hall receiving and transmitting voice, images and data via “white space” wireless broadcasting.
The town has been involved for a year or so in initial phases of a project to bring broadband Internet access to most of the town’s households which do not now have Internet access — except for ultra-slow dial-up, which is virtually unusable.
Three-quarters of the town’s 400 households at this point have no Internet connection, according to estimates.
The demonstration, to be held in conjunction with the monthly town board meeting, is to carry a signal from a home 2.1 miles away. As this is more than twice the maximum distance of white space transmission specified in the Thurman system’s engineering plans, town officials say this demonstration will provide ample proof of white space’s viability.
However, a commercial satellite link — with all its limitations and questionable reliability — will be providing the signal for the demonstration, while the future installed system will be using broadband optic fiber cable, the premier method of land-based transmission.
The demonstration is anticipated to show how white space works in everyday Internet uses such as online orders, video streaming, and perhaps video-conferencing. The presentation is also expected to include explanations of how white space technology works and how it will impact the lives of Thurman citizens.
Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood said this week her board has spent more than three years researching the best method of connecting its rural residents and businesses to high-speed Internet.
Thurman’s white-space project, a public-private partnership, has involved many state agencies and legislative leaders in an effort to implement this technology for the benefit of its citizens, Wood said in a prepared statement. The memo cited the involvement and support of New York State Broadband, Empire State Development, Warren County EDC, Sen. Betty Little, and Assemblyman Dan Stec for the town’s broadband initiative — funded by a $200,000 state grant — and endorsement of the work of Rainmaker Network Services.
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.”