Microsoft and several rural broadband advocacy organizations have launched a new coalition to focus on rural broadband expansion. The coalition, called Connect Americans Now, will work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other policymakers to ensure that there is sufficient unlicensed low band spectrum in every market in the country to enable broadband connectivity.
The group is pushing federal policymakers to commit to rural broadband expansion and making new technologies like TV White Space broadband available nationwide. They also are spearheading an advocacy campaign in Washington, D.C., where FCC regulators have the authority to make sufficient unlicensed spectrum available in each market for high-speed internet.
CAN’s founding partners include Microsoft, ACT: The App Association, the National Rural Education Association, the Schools, Health and Library Broadband Coalition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association, Alaska Communications, Axiom, the Mid-Atlantic Broadcasting Communities Corporation, the American Pain Relief Institute, HTS Ag, and others.
“All Americans – regardless of where they live – deserve access to high-speed internet,” said Richard T. Cullen, Executive Director of Connect Americans Now (CAN). “Without a broadband connection, millions of students struggle to keep up with their assignments, Americans in rural areas are unable to fully utilize telemedicine, farmers are denied the promise of precision agriculture and businesses are unable to tap into the world of online commerce. Congress and the FCC must stand with rural America by allowing internet service providers to deliver broadband via white spaces spectrum.”
As CivSource has reported, TV White Space broadband uses empty TV channels to provide access to the internet over long distances by relying on the strength of TV transmission towers. TV White Space has emerged as an option for rural areas with low rates of internet access because the technology does not require new fiber networks to be built. So far, TV White Space broadband has been tested in small pilot projects but additional backing from Microsoft and other organizations could spur the growth of more widespread adoption.