While much of the focus on WiMAX in the US is often viewed purely from a service provider's perspective, the availability of WiMAX equipment and FCC spectrum mandates are creating unique opportunities for colleges, universities and other educational institutions. Under FCC rules, holders of EBS (Educational Broadband Services) spectrum must show "substantive usage" by May 2011 or risk forfeiting the spectrum.
EBS spectrum was provided to local colleges, universities, school boards, churches and other non profits in the 1960s to as a means to provide educational and distant learning content via television. With the development of mobile WiMAX, this spectrum became much more valuable and could be utilized to deliver high-speed wireless broadband services or leased to other service providers.
But most of these institutions lack the expertise needed to develop their spectrum assets. Enter Ball State University (BSU), a state-run research university in Muncie, Indiana that was identified as a "top wireless" university by Intel in 2005. BSU has been at the forefront of wireless research and innovation and has worked with a number of different networking and wireless technologies. Partnering with Alvarion and Digital Bridge Communications, BSU was one of the first operators in the US to conduct field tests of WiMAX equipment in 2006.