Coeur d'Alene tribe building Wi-Fi for entire reservation

Coeur d'Alene tribe building Wi-Fi for entire reservation

Summary: With smiling USDA officials looking on, the Coeur D'Alene Reservation recently opened a community technology center that boasts 40 computers and free broadband access. That's just the first phase in a $3.

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With smiling USDA officials looking on, the Coeur D'Alene Reservation recently opened a community technology center that boasts 40 computers and free broadband access. That's just the first phase in a $3.5 million project that wil soon bring broadband Wi-Fi to all 6,000 homes on the 375,000 acre reservation, according to InternetNews.com. The driving force behind the massive project is Valerie Fast Horse, the tribe's IT director, who wrote a $2.8 million grant to the USDA's Rural Utility Service.

“We see not one but four divides,” Fast Horse explains in the article. “Transport, distribution, access, and content. In order to bridge the divide for our own people, we need to take a look at those things. Most reservations are remote, so how do we get our feed in? I was looking at ways of solving our problems. Transport was very expensive. Nothing existed.”

Wi-Fi - and money - is making it possible. 

Spokane, Wash.-based Vivato is building the network by placing 16 extended-range Wi-Fi base stations at four strategic locations. Vivato's system uses phased array antennae and a patented PacketSteering technology to boost coverage to up to 13 miles.

“The mountains and valleys are a challenge and an opportunity,” said Vivato marketing VP Ben DiLello. “These panels have to be strategically located at places with some height, and pointed toward the POP you are trying to cover. If it’s a situation where the terrain is such that we have to go through mountain ranges, we do it by placing multiple panels, which we have done here.”

The tribe plans to focus on streaming video appliations, especially for teaching the ancient tribal language. Residential broadband will be available to residents at roughly the same cost as commercial services in urban areas but will be free in the technology center.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Broadband, Networking

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