Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are 'white spaces' key to rural broadband access?

The changeover from analog to digital television will be complete in early 2009, and some rural groups say it will provide a prime opportunity for the Federal Communications Commission to help rural areas get more access to high-speed Internet service, or broadband.

In an letter filed last week, a group of rural organizations asked the FCC to keep "white spaces," the large number of frequencies that will be left vacant by the digital switch, unlicensed. They say this would allow the frequencies to be used to for broadband access to areas where it has not been cost-effective. "Should the Commission adopt a licensed model," the letter reads, "the overwhelming majority of existing rural providers, local governments, and individuals, would be unable to compete against giant wireless or landline carriers, the only entities who can afford the high cost-of-entry for exclusive, licensed spectrum." The group also asks that the FCC leave white space devices mobile, so that people in rural areas have the freedom to install their own white space devices. (Read the letter)

A FCC vote on white spaces is scheduled for Nov. 4, but many supporting deregulation of those channels say the vote could be delayed by competing lobbying groups, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, which prefers licensing. (Read more)

1 comment:

Jon Kepler said...

I have to admit that I didn't know how large a problem this was. I actually just wrote an article on my blog about broadband in rural areas (http://www.jonkepler.com/1/post/2008/11/broadband-connections.html). I know very few people in rural areas, but at least one person I know gets faster-than-56k internet via a line of sight connection to a nearby tower.