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Sandvine building bridges over the digital divide

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Thank you to Sandvine for your generous support! Dave Caputo, CEO at Sandvine, with Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library, and Rick Wadsworth, Director of Corporate Communications at Sandvine.

Users of Kitchener Public Library’s popular wi-fi lending program will be soon be getting a gift from local tech giant Sandvine, a global leader in network policy control.

Launched in October 2015, Kitchener Public Library was the first in Canada to offer a free wi-fi hotspot lending program. Members use their library card to borrow an Internet hotspot device for up to two weeks, giving them access to unlimited data anywhere in Canada where there is Rogers cell coverage.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Library Association recognized Kitchener Public Library with an Ontario Library Information Technology Association Award for outstanding innovation in their community.

The library started the hotspot collection with 20 devices, but soon realized they were onto something big. “We knew our wi-fi lending program would be popular, but we were amazed with the response from our library users,” reports Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library. “Not only does the long wait list for our few hotspot devices prove this, but sadly, it also illustrates the very real digital divide that exists in our technology-focused community.”

Thankfully the need for services like those offered by the library have not gone unnoticed by the technology sector.

Thanks to Sandvine’s generosity, the library’s wi-fi lending program will soon be getting a much needed boost, with the addition of another 20 new hotspot devices and financial support for ongoing data usage.

“Sandvine’s products help several ISPs around the world offer free Internet services to their subscribers, so we jumped at the opportunity to make a donation to the Kitchener Public Library to do the same thing for those in our own community,” said Dave Caputo, CEO, Sandvine. “Waterloo Region is flourishing thanks to the power of the Internet, and KPL’s wi-fi lending program plays an important role in ensuring that anyone in the region can have access to the empowerment it provides.”

The library’s hotspot devices are ideal for job seekers, students, or anyone who needs access to the internet or digital library resources outside library hours, or outside the library. The wi-fi hotspot devices are currently available at Central Library but will also be available at community libraries in the coming months.

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Faster, higher, stronger: improved internet access

GUEST POST BY LESA BALCH, DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGIES AND CONTENT

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Access to the internet just got faster!  In fact, Kitchener Public Library now offers 200 Mbps of bandwidth to access the internet.

Two years ago, Kitchener Public Library increased the bandwidth that is available to use the internet across all library locations for both connected computers and WiFi. Then, in the past two years, WiFi usage more than tripled.

  • 2013 = WiFi used 121,963 times
  • 2015 = WiFi used 406,369 times

With this dramatic increase in WiFi usage, along with an increase in streaming video, whether short YouTube clips or full-length movies, it was time to increase the bandwidth again.  This time the library doubled the bandwidth to 200 Mbps.

The increase in bandwidth means customers should not experience any lags in accessing websites, opening email, or viewing video clips.

And, there’s more good news.

Kitchener Public Library was recently nominated for a Business Excellence Award from the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce in the Innovation Award category for our WiFi hotspot lending program Borrow the Internet.

While the award went to the Perimeter Institute (congratulations to them!), it was an honour to be recognized with a list of nominees that included local research and technology companies.

With the Borrow the Internet program, we are making a difference in the lives of people, and helping people bridge the digital divide. In one case, a woman used a library hotspot to search for jobs from home, so that she did not have to pay bus fare to come to the library for internet access. Someone else was relieved that he could stay connected to work while visiting his parents who only have dial-up internet.

We’re now investigating ways to fund the expansion of the Borrow the Internet program, with additional hotspot devices at more library locations.

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