California tests white space broadband


Rural internet access is a problem for both residents and providers alike. Low population density and geographical challenges like mountain ranges or big hills can make the business case for building in rural areas a hard sell. However, as CivSource has previously reported, the demand for rural internet remains strong. Commercial uses of white space spectrum may be the answer.

White space is the part of the broadband spectrum that is unused, given how spectrum is allocated white space is also usually unlicensed. White space comes with the power of TV signals which are much stronger and can transmit over large spaces or rocky geography. Now, companies like Google and others are looking at ways to use this spectrum for areas where broadband access has been hard to come by.

Google has created a searchable map of white space spectrum and where it might be useful. In addition, they recently announced a large white space trial in Cape Town, South Africa. Not that many places have white space networks, but there is one in the Gold Country of California, and now residents there will be able to access broadband over white space on a network called

“Over 59,000 residents in our rural service area have had little or no quality Internet access,” explained CTO Ken Garnett, in a statement. “When I discovered Carlson, their White-Space network equipment was a quantum leap ahead of all other contenders. This new product allows us to serve a large contingent of these people.” will be working with another company, Carlson which can provide rugged terrain communications access. Carlson has been focused on rural broadband access as business line for some time. Both companies were given Special Temporary Authority by the FCC to build out the white space access in California. (See our previous discussion of STA here.)

The project comprises multiple transmission sites delivering broadband to several hundred heretofore un-serviceable subscribers in El Dorado County. The success of their project will help qualify the potential of white space access. Late last month Carlson began shipping its RuralConnect system to FCC authorized customers in fulfillment of pre-orders.