Welcome to the "Beyond the Walls" Initiative

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. rely solely or in part on public libraries to access Internet. Libraries are crucial in connecting communities. With TV WhiteSpace technology people can connect beyond library walls. The “Beyond The Walls” Initiative provides five $15,000 grants to libraries for the most innovative proposals to use TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) technologies to enable new library hotspots in the service of their communities. Winning projects were announced May 9, 2017 and projects will be implemented during the summer of 2017. Check back here periodically for updates.

TVWS uses the unused spectrum in the TV bands. It can deliver broadband to a hotspot miles away, even passing through trees, buildings or other obstructions. Installing TVWS hotspots can improve your community’s resilience by adding another communication capability for disaster preparedness.

Winning proposals:

  • Support access and inclusion to underserve populations.
  • Show creativity in thinking of new ways and locations to install remote library WiFi access points.
  • Form key collaborations among community stakeholders, such as schools, museums, health clinics, community centers, post offices, shelters, etc.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the project from proposal partners and supporters as well as to the overall learning and knowledge base we'll be creating together.
  • Integrate TVWS into disaster preparedness planning.

Even if your library did not receive a grant, the "Beyond the Walls" Team would be happy to help your library explore TV WhiteSpace opportunities. Email info@giglibraries.net if you have any questions, and follow along online with #BeyondTheWalls and @GigLibraries!


What is TV WhiteSpace?

Unused license-free radio frequencies in the TV broadcast bands, available for anyone to use for wide area data communications.  Wikipedia  

What’s so special about TVWS?

Two things at least! 

-Residing in lower radio frequencies, TVWS signals have the capability to travel for miles and pass through or around obstructions like trees and buildings that otherwise block or interfere higher frequency radios like traditional WiFi.

-No single entity owns or controls this powerful valuable open radio spectrum other than the public itself through its regulatory agency, the FCC.

“How can my library use TVWS to benefit my community?”

That is THE question!  How indeed? What we have seen already is that the most obvious benefit is that your library can provide more convenient WiFi access for the community in new places never before served. Parks, shelters, playgrounds, senior centers, post offices, and more are all candidates as new library hotspot locations. If you haven’t already, take 2 minutes for video to see more possibilities. But think up your own! Put it into a proposal and send it in!  Your community will thank you.

How do I know if I have available spectrum channels in my area?

Use “search for open channels” on the Resource Hub page. Enter the name of your town into the data base for instant results.

How far can it reach? What kind of throughput may we expect?

3-15 Mbps per channel for up to seven miles depending on configuration, vendor and topology.

Can we create a seven mile radius WiFi hotspot?

No, but you will be able to locate new remote library WiFi hotspots, of traditional range, up to seven miles away, but closer is generally better. (see Prospective Coverage Map to help initial analysis & site planning)

How much does it cost?

Between $5,000 and $10,000 for basic network setup all inclusive and again 3-15 Mbps per channel up to seven miles depending on configuration, vendor and topology but also your purpose. The $15,0000 subawards allow for possible additional service needs for installation.

How much time will it take to install?

Much depends on the size of any project, but a simple configuration of a base station and several remote units should require no more than a week. One part involves attaching the equipment. Another involves system setup which is like adding new nodes on a local network, since that’s what these are, albeit wide area.

How difficult is it to maintain?

Not very. Once set up, the equipment is stable and needs very little attention. The special non-line-of-sight capabilities of TVWS are also more forgiving that usual direct line of sight wireless technologies. 

How will we know if our plan is  even workable?

After you’ve cleared the checklist and have a project plan, you will be able to work with vendors to confirm plan viability as well as get equipment pricing for your budget submission.

How do I know if we meet the basic requirements to apply?

Watch the 2 minute Preliminary Checklist video. Then go through the Checklist items on the Resource Hub page.

When is the deadline for applications?

The project proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis with the cut off on March 27. Don’t delay! 

After I register can we update our proposal?

Yes. Until March 27. After that only invited proposals will be able to offer further changes.

What kind of project proposal has the best chance of winning?

As mentioned on the Welcome page, we seek innovative, collaborative proposals from committed libraries and their partners. Tip: Getting expressions of support from other local and state officials will help. Tip #2: Incorporating a plan for use in crisis or any extended lights out scenario will be a plus.

When will the winning proposals be announced?

May 2017!

“Beyond The Walls” Awards Brought to You By:



Made possible thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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