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This project will systematically field test the technical characteristics of a selected variety of wireless devices and digital radio nets which can be integrated into telecommunications data networks, including the Internet, and which can serve the broadest purposes of education and research by linking computers, sensing devices, control systems, LANS and WANS operated by individuals, classrooms, schools and colleges for research, learning and teaching, connectivity, collaboration, conferencing in textual, sound, and image modes of communications. Data of use by

It will particularly focus on the devices, topologies, technical connectivity and interoperability for beta test or commercially available wireless equipment which operates in the unlicenced FCC allocated Part 15 ISM bands (902-928Mhz, 2400-2483.5Mhz, 5700-5800Mhz), including spread spectrum technologies, and the associated technical limits imposed by issues of allowable range and radiated power, urban and rural electromagnetic, geographical, and building environments, (interference, scatter, line loss) availability of field power sources (where retransmission is required), and interoperability of wireless with wired networks using the ubiquitous general network protocols such as TCP/IP, local LAN, serial and ethernet connectivity.

The object of this investigation is to develop, present and make widely available, comprehensive public data of value to those of the 100,000 public and private schools and colleges who must decide, design, and implement, based on comparative evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of wired and wireless solutions to solve their Information infrastructure connectivity problems. Such data does not currently exist for the emerging technologies of wireless. It will be conducted as a field test in which the wireless links will be incorporated into existing, or extend, wired networks, and Internet services, in order to develop realistic data under operating conditions.

It will develop data on effective data throughputs, technical robustness under field conditions through annual weather cycles, and practical utility 'at the limits' of range, data types (text, image, sound, video) in circumstances and in places where costs or conditions for use of wired (telephone or cable networks or extentions) are cost prohibitive, or impracticable.

The investigation will be conducted among and between rural and urban schools and the nearest commercial Internet providers in Colorado. Where wireless, as contrasted with wired, solutions appear to have the greatest value. The tests will encompass:

  • rural areas where telephone or cable circuitry at acceptable data rates (56kbs and above) are prohibitive in cost or unobtainable from rural phone or cable operators.
  • within school buildings and local complexes - between terminating points for outside connectivity (such as 56kb, fractional, or full T-1 lines) and classrooms, lans, libraries.
  • between schools or colleges, including associated libraries and nearby Internet points-of-presence, or other buildings in an educational complex are situated, where high data rates (1.54 mb T-1 or above) and bandwidths are needed, but costs of commercial dedicated lines are too high.
  • within typical classroom or study centers - where multiple computers or workstations are located for simultaneous use, and wireless lans, or server-workstation connectivity is needed.
  • in local areas from outside schools where students and teachers using home or instituionally supplied computers pursue research and studies but availability of connectivity is limited by telephone bandwidths (generally to 28.8k data rates over voice grade commercial lines)
  • in educational and research projects where field data is gathered outside of schools and laboratories - remote sensing and continuous data communications.
  • in mobile educational (field trip/research) projects.
Commercially available, FCC approved, and prototype devices under development, from very short range (150 to 1,500 foot, wireless lan-type), through 1-20 mile range medium speed, to maximum speed (2mb per second) will be field tested both under:
  1. routine and sustained educational and research conditions (normal school year with typical network loads) and typical educational data transmission.
  2. special tests of measurable text, sound, image, video data that test the limits of throughput, robustness, and end user usability to and from these same institutions.