Congress Pushes FCC to Use White Spaces for Rural Broadband

WASHINGTON—Members on both sides of the aisle in Congress are calling on the FCC to emphasize TV white spaces as a potential resource for future broadband as the spectrum repack begins. In a letter to Chairman Pai and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, 43 House members—led by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)—make the case that the FCC should preserve three white space channels in every local market for the possible use of broadband internet connections in rural communities across the country.

White space, according to Cramer’s official release, has been tested by the FCC and proven to be a way to make access to broadband available in remote areas where Wi-Fi connection is difficult. The FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report indicated that 24 million of the total 34 million Americans that do not have access to broadband internet live in rural communities that lack the network infrastructure needed for reliable broadband connection.

“We believe that the television white spaces (TVWS) have strong potential to revolutionize broadband internet accessibility in rural areas,” the letter reads. “TVWS allows a broadband internet connection over 9 miles, while navigating the physical terrain that at times can make wireless broadband connectivity difficult. Because of this range, these internet connections are extremely cost-effective, requiring minimal infrastructure investments, and are far more dependable than the limited connections that many rural areas currently have.”

“If TV white spaces technology can be the ultimate disrupter to reduce these massive costs, eliminate the digital divide and revolutionize the broadband industry, then the FCC should give it the attention it deserves,” said Cramer in his release.

To read the full letter, click here.