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Technology Spotlight: TV White Spaces for Rural America

Bowling Green, KY. (September 16, 2019) - As the Digital Divide persists in America’s most rural communities, it is vital that federal regulators and elected officials consider a vast array of options for bringing broadband to the unserved. One such option is the use of TV white space (TVWS) technologies to wirelessly transmit broadband signals over television white space frequencies.

TVWS refers to unused broadband frequencies specifically in the 700 MHz frequency range where wireless signals can travel extensively and over various types Carlson 3d Illustration 2 300x132of geographies and landscapes. By eliminating the need for costly deployment of fixed broadband services, TVWS provides a potentially low-cost solution to increasing access in unserved areas. As noted by Connect Americans Now (CAN), “signals in TVWS frequencies travel further than those in other bands, and adopting this model is far more economical than attempting to extend fiber to small customer bases in remote and hard-to-reach areas.”

Microsoft, which is leading the charge of this technology both nationally and internationally, has launched a series of commercial pilot programs, as well as the Microsoft White Spaces Database, which lists available and unoccupied TV channels by location.

In the hopes of opening up more opportunities for rural Americans looking for better internet service, or any internet option at all, Connected Nation joined Connect Americans Now and other groups in filing a June letter to the FCC calling for a series of actions to encourage the deployment of TVWS technology for broadband coverage.

Conrad Lindsay 10 14 15 240x300As the regulators and legislators keep all options on the table for enhancing broadband access in unserved or underserved areas, TVWS technologies may serve a meaningful role in finally bringing about national ubiquitous coverage.

About the Author: Lindsay Conrad is Connected Nation’s Director of Public Policy. She monitors all current and forecasted federal and state broadband public policy legislation and initiatives. In this role, she develops recommendations on the strategic direction and development of Connected Nation policy studies and messaging to stakeholders while supporting and guiding Connected Nation’s broadband planning, research, and policy agendas.