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8/1/2006
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Rhode Island Extends Rural Wi-Fi

Gov. Donald L. Carcieri has provided a $200,000 grant to install a base station in rural Foster. That station, in turn, will connect to base stations already installed in Providence and Newport.

The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINS) said Tuesday it plans to extent its Wi-Fi network to rural Foster.

The program, which is seeking to install a giant border-to-border broadband mobile network, has received a boost from Gov. Donald L. Carcieri in the form of a $200,000 grant to fund the installation of a base station in the rural community. The Foster base station will connect to base stations already installed in Providence and Newport.

"Supporting the extension of the RI-WINS pilot into Foster will not only speed up our efforts to make Rhode Island the first state in the country with a border-to-boarder broadband mobile network, it creates an opportunity to bring infrastructure into a rural community where this kind of technology is not yet available," the governor said in a statement.

The Business Innovation Factory (BIF), which is a group of Rhode Island agencies and entities that support the RI-WINS project, noted that the current pilot program is designed to test applications and to troubleshoot issues before the statewide deployment takes place.

"Foster is by far one of the most underserved communities in the state and it is safe to say that most residents do not have broadband access." said BIF spokesperson Melissa Withers in an e-mail.

The RI-WINS program is currently supporting 8 pilot applications, she said, adding that support is being provided by several partners including Brown University, CVS, and several Rhode Island State agencies. "I believe that 150 people are fully trained and provisioned as of today," she said.

BIF founder Saul Kaplan observed that the program is capable of providing "vital connectivity and mobile data sharing (for) ambulance technicians, fire fighters, and police on the go throughout the state."

RI-WINS estimates the Foster pilot application will be operational in four to six months.

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