4G Bridges the Digital Divide in Rural Areas

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, April 26, 2012

President Obama hopes to bring high-speed wireless Internet to all rural areas in the next five years.

President Obama hopes to bring high-speed wireless Internet to all rural areas in the next five years with the National Wireless Initiative he announced last year.

Michigan already has a head start in offering this to its students. Northern Michigan University (NMU), located about 500 miles northwest of Detroit, has set up the largest educational WiMAX 4G network in the nation to provide high-speed Internet access to all K12 and college students in the area. A WiMAX network delivers wireless service to large geographical areas.

In 2009, the NMU IT team added antennas to the top of a water tank that sits in the middle of Powell Township, which is near the university on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This project was funded by Intel, which donated wireless equipment, and Lenovo, which donated 4G- capable laptops. At 100 megabits per second, the new wireless network is 100 times faster than before. Since last school year, students in the Powell Township School District have had access to the WiMAX network at school and home.

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