Key to their efforts is an easily deployable piece of infrastructure that can tap into areas of fibre optic networks that are not in use or under-utilised
US company Bridge, which describes itself as a “public benefit” corporation, is aiming to build the first decentralised open network that will be funded, deployed, owned, and operated by the crowd.
Based in the city of Clearwater in Florida, it has developed a small, low-cost and easily deployable piece of infrastructure equipment called a wireless switch. The switch can tap into areas of fibre optic networks that are not in use or are under-utilised, also called dark fibre. Bridge claims that it sends a wireless signal that’s faster than any Internet solution currently available and is less breachable due to its multiple layers of physical security.
Bridge is the brainchild of an electrical engineer, Christopher Anderson, who worked on the team that brought the communications systems on NASA’s mars exploration programme to life. To promote this new technology, the Bridge team has created an entity called The Connected Revolution, and with it, a pledge to deploy Bridge technology in 100 communities in America beginning this autumn.
“This isn’t just about providing a faster Internet or increased access,” said Anderson. “This is about the creation of a whole new rich media ecosystem where everyone has the ability to access augmented reality experiences, able to support artificial intelligence, and equally important, be able to send a wireless gigabit-speeds signals to under-served areas.”
A Bridge switch is about the size of a shoe box and can be mounted on a building, a light pole, or any existing structure, reducing the capital expense of installation when compared to traditional fibre optic infrastructure. Bridge technology provides the types of unencumbered data flow to make augmented reality and artificial intelligence systems work without buffering, delays or bandwidth-related limitations.
The Bridge switch has been in development for over seven years. Bridge said that in that time, the large internet service providers (ISPs) have not been financially motivated to update existing fibre optic networks using the old capital and operating expenditure model that is nearly impossible to recoup. Bridge claims to eliminate many of these costs, making the next generation in connectivity possible now.
Its Connected Revolution Contest is a national competition to promote the initial proliferation of Bridge networks throughout the US. To roll out the first demonstrations of Bridge connectivity, communities are invited to raise funds through tee-shirt purchases (via individuals), through civic leaders and through partnering with thought leaders in those communities. Winners are defined as communities that are the first to raise $500,000 to implement a Bridge system in their downtown core, which will bring free Bridge connectivity to all users within that demonstration area.
Communities can raise these funds by becoming members of the Street Team, those who invest in tee-shirts, stickers, and pledge to bring awareness for Bridge in their communities via social media engagements. Funds can also be raised by the municipalities themselves or through forward-thinking investors.
Bridge will provide a free, interactive augmented reality kiosk in all Bridge communities to demonstrate the true power and potential of the Internet. They will also receive free smart phone adapters that make the most commonly used devices better able to maximise their Bridge experience.
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