The AIR.U Initiative
AIR.U offers users sustainable high capacity broadband networks leveraging White Space frequencies for the higher education community.
The AIR.U initiative was announced in 2012 and is a consortium of educational associations, public interest groups and high-tech companies that delivers wireless broadband applications to underserved campuses and their surrounding communities.
Formation & Founders
AIR.U was formed in July with the founding Higher Ed organizations collectively representing over 500 colleges and universities nationwide, and including the United Negro College Fund, the New England Board of Higher Education, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, and Gig.U, a consortium of 37 major universities committed to accelerating world-leading broadband connectivity and services. Google, Microsoft, New America Foundation and Declaration Networks are also founding partners.
Pilot Program & Next Steps
The first AIR.U pilot network has been deployed on the campus of West Virginia University, soon to be announced programs will allow others to experience the same benefits that WVU has already achieved with their implementation. Plans for the next phase of activities include the development of a coordinated user group to further develop White Space technology, establish best practices, identify applications and share approaches for community expansion activities.
“Not only does the AIR.U deployment improve wireless connectivity for the Public Rapid Transport System, but it 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.” –John Campbell, Chief Information Officer, West Virginia University
AIR.U Founder Testimonials
“Colleges in rural areas will be the greatest beneficiaries of Super Wi-Fi networks because they are located in communities that often lack sufficient broadband, their needs are greater and there is typically a large number of vacant TV channels outside the biggest urban markets. This combination of factors makes them ideal candidates for utilizing Super Wi-Fi spectrum to complement existing broadband capabilities.” –Michael Calabrese, Director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
“We could not be more delighted that AIR.U was born out of the Gig.U effort, which only further validates the need to upgrade the bandwidth available to communities surrounding our research universities and our colleges throughout the country” –Blair Levin, Executive Director of Gig.U and Former Executive Director of FCC’s National Broadband Plan
“Super Wi-Fi presents a lower-cost, scalable approach to deliver high capacity wireless networks, and AIR.U is leading the way for a new broadband alternative to provide sustainable models that can be replicated and extended to towns and cities nationwide.” –Bob Nichols, CEO, Declaration Networks Group, LLC
“Expanded broadband access has been an unaffordable hurdle in rural, underserved communities. The opportunity to acquire and leverage spectrum and broadband assets will go far in addressing the competitive disadvantage their absence created. This effort will enable selected institutions and all the constituents they serve to have the enhanced, sustainable capacity needed to more fully experience the information age and the ability to participate and contribute to it.” –Robert Rucker, Vice President for Operations & Technology at the United Negro College Fund
“Appalachian communities cannot afford to wait for high-speed service to be delivered to them. Partnerships like this one put existing spectrum assets to work, and as a result, more quickly provide rural communities the high-speed service they need in order to compete with the rest of the world.” –Earl F. Gohl, ARC Federal Co-Chair
“While California’s urban coastal areas are well-served by broadband, the state’s remote and rural regions are extremely difficult to reach without wireless technology, and many CENIC member institutions are located in these regions. Maintaining these institutions at the level of connectivity required for 21st century research and education is a constant challenge for CENIC. Thus, deploying Wi-Fi networks that expand the coverage and capacity of high-speed connectivity for research and education communities both on and off-campus is a crucial part of the CENIC mission, and we’re delighted to take part in AIR.U.” –Louis Fox, President and CEO of CENIC
“With the high concentration of postsecondary institutions throughout New England, we are thrilled to be a member of the AIR.U partnership. At a time when sectors like education and health are booming with innovative, disruptive technology like distance learning and tele-health, deploying Wi-Fi networks in a way that expands coverage for communities is key. Leveraging university communities to pilot this technology is precisely a step in the right direction,” –Monnica Chan, Director of Policy & Research for NEBHE