Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bill Crawford: White space might fix broadband problems

White space surrounding rural folks across Mississippi may be the solution to closing our digital divide.
 Well, "white space refers to the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum," according to
Okay, it's basically unused TV channels. Turns out TV channel frequencies below 700 Mhz function sort of like 4G so they can be used, with the right technology, to deliver broadband internet.  
Gov. Phil Bryant has joined nine other governors in requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reserve "at least three white space channels in every U.S. market" to enable better access to broadband internet for rural areas. This means they don't want the FCC to auction off these frequencies but instead keep access to them open and free.
"Approximately 34 million of our nation’s citizens lack access to quality broadband services, especially in underserved rural areas," said the governors' letter. "Whether it’s students trying to research a topic at home or entrepreneurs launching a business, the digital divide should not limit any citizen’s ability to learn, innovate, or connect to the numerous advantages enabled by robust internet access."
Turns out Microsoft developed technology that at any U.S. location can sort through the FCC's state-by-state database of used TV frequencies, bind three of them together, and provide access to high capacity broadband. The good thing about white space TV channels compared to cellular frequencies is their far reach, e.g., Mississippi ETV can cover the whole state with just eight towers.
Microsoft has reportedly opened up its patents to allow any broadband providers to use the technology.
Meanwhile, TV broadcasters say they will need those channels, especially to implement new ATSC 3.0 advanced transmission standard, according to Multichannel News.
However, a growing national initiative is promoting the benefits of TV white space access to broadband for rural areas. It's called Connect Americans Now (CAN). Mississippi's Delta Council has joined up.
"Staying competitive in the modern farm economy takes more than good weather and a strong back,” said Darrington Seward, a farmer from Louise and a member of the Delta Council. “A broadband connection opens up a new world of technologies, like remote soil sensors and targeted irrigation, helping to increase yields, lower costs and conserve resources. And just like any other small business, the opportunity to shop online for affordable equipment and access customers all over the world can be a game changer. I’m excited see Connect Americans Now pressing ahead on solutions that will expand broadband access throughout rural Mississippi and help close the digital divide once and for all.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, who joined Seward at a town hall meeting in Jackson put on by CAN, commented, "I am encouraged by this new partnership to help close the digital divide. Connecting more Mississippians to high-speed internet is essential to our state’s economic future.” Last year Wicker introduced legislation to speed up access to broadband for rural residents.
Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley likes the idea for telemedicine and rural clinics. 

Others see it as a boon for rural small businesses. That’s something economic developers for four, rural east Mississippi counties were yearning for recently. 

Maybe this is the solution they, and we, need. 
Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.


Anonymous said...

High altitude drones will be delivering rural broadband long before any of this is relevant.

Anonymous said...

Low throughput (< 14 Mbps) and limited range (7 miles max from antenna). Doesn't scale on network side of service. Won't go anywhere without massive subsidization by Uncle Sugar.

Anonymous said...

Yea this is a waste of time. The FCC might as well auction those freqs. Satellites is going to help the rural broadband issue shortly and you'll have at least 3 competitors to keep the pricing fair.

Anonymous said...

there is already satellite available (and has been for 10-15 years) and it's latency issues are too much to overcome for broadband

Anonymous said...

I only get 1 bar (or zero) on ATT in Washington County. What will help?

Also, will drones make cell towers obsolete?

Anonymous said...

IF the damn FCC and this new wave of millennial hippies will stay out of the way, there willing be unbelievable investments in network options over the next decade. But too many people are trying to put the feds in control. What idiot wants to invest in a government controlled market? Net Neutrality put network investment back a good 5-8 years

Richard Gozinya said...

So this fucking forum is uber PC? There is something non-PC with saying "Obama phone?"


Anonymous said...

Someone must have reached out to Crawford after watching him carry the water for another crap shoot technology (aka Kemper).

Anonymous said...

No company will invest in rural areas unless there is some government involvement.

Anonymous said...

5:58 = small minded government bureaucrat

Anonymous said...

Thought I saw somewhere that somebody is working on using commercial aircraft criss-crossing the skies as a source.

Anonymous said...

Unless companies are forced or paid by the government to provide services to areas they don't want to, they won't. I live in a non-rural subdivision that has no broadband and it is solely because the developer screwed a utility and now neither ATT nor a cable provider will service my area. Satellite, which I had when I lived in an actual rural area, only works for some homes in my neighborhood, mine not among them. I'm backed by a very large, federally owned preserve. Great for privacy, bad for technology.

Anonymous said...

12:11....that's actually the problem...assuming the government has to step in to fix all our problems. They will assuredly apply last century's solutions to next year's issue. The marketplace is going to find a way to supply rural areas with internet. There are many concepts on the drawing board. The biggest obstacle is the fear that if they deploy capital that there will be no return because the government may step in and change the rules.

The reason the internet grew so fast in the first place is the pledge that congress made in the 90s to stay hands off. The reason deployment has slowed recently is because of this populist concept of government run internet, aka net neutrality.

Anonymous said...

6:37, right. I'm not lamenting the government's non-interference in my situation just stating the only way to force availability is by force or coercion. It's not the FCCs job to make sure I get Internet in my neighborhood, it's mine through my weak as water HOA. The data signal on my phone isn't strong enough to stream Netflix but can occasionally power my computer and printer via hotspot. Otherwise I can conduct most online activity through my phone. The current push for mandated access is likened to the mandated landline phone access of days past but shouldn't be. Internet access is not a life safety factor. Dialing 911 is.

Kingfish said...

Give up commenting about Obamaphones. They have nothing to do with this post.

Barry Pittman said...

...I just wish I could get something faster than my AT&T 1.5 Mbps DSL circuit....

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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