The number of Americans who don’t have access to a broadband connection is still a whopping 19 million, according to a recent report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Three-quarters of those Americans live in rural regions or on tribal lands, where the residents aren’t clustered in cities and the terrain is often rugged.
And although 13.5 million of these Americans compensate for this lack by accessing data through their mobiles, the remaining 5.5 million don’t have that luxury.
That 2 percent of the American population occupy regions (roughly a third of the country’s land mass) that do not have the infrastructure for either mobile or fixed broadband.
Still No Progress in Rural America
The FCC’s “Eighth Broadband Progress Report” does show progress overall, but none in rural areas, where the numbers are essentially the same as last year.
Because of low population density and rugged terrain, large telecommunications companies will not invest in the infrastructure it would take to serve this relatively few residents with microwave or cellular technology.
Is there a better technology capable of serving vast areas with little infrastructure?
The answer is yes.
Solution: White Space
This technology makes use of available areas (“white spaces”) in the TV spectrum. With fewer TV channels broadcasting in rural regions, rural residents have a vast resource of available TV spectrum whose value is likened to beachfront property.
TV signal is powerful and robust, with a wide range and the ability to overcome obstacles like foliage and walls. This means it is capable of providing broadband signal to all the residents of a large area without requiring expensive infrastructure.
Carlson is at the leading edge of this technology, with the first broadband radio custom-designed for rural deployment. RuralConnect is both affordable and powerful, and Carlson has also developed a line of innovative antennas that make the most of the UHF signal.
Hope for the Future
Wireless Internet service providers are on the forefront as well, the first to move this exciting technology from the testing bench and into the most challenging reaches of the nation to get broadband into rural homes.
Next year, thanks to TV white space, the FCC’s “Ninth Broadband Progress Report” is going to show significant progress in rural regions. Broadband access brings with it greater job opportunities, extended educational opportunities, and better healthcare, strengthening rural communities and improving the quality of life for all Americans.