12 States to Get White-space Broadband from Microsoft
Microsoft recently announced it will finally be launching a white-space broadband service in an effort to bring broadband to five million under-connected Americans over the next five years.
Just like the slow march of the white walkers in HBO’s Game of Thrones, the promise of white-space broadband has also been slowly moving forward. The technology is sometimes referred to as “super Wi-Fi” because it behaves like regular Wi-Fi, but uses low-powered television channels to cover far greater distances than wireless hotspots.
Discussions about how to use this technology have been ongoing since 2004 and FCC approval for the first white-space devices was given back in 2011.
The specific technology being used by Microsoft is dynamic spectrum access, which enables wireless devices to opportunistically tap into unused radio spectrum to establish broadband connections.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), a long-time opponent to white-space broadband, points out that Microsoft just wants free, unlicensed spectrum. The NAB added that “Microsoft’s white-space device development has been a well-documented, unmitigated failure.”
“Microsoft’s research and community deployments have shown that white spaces technology is a very effective tool for expanding existing broadband networks into unserved or underserved communities,” the company said. “This is because white spaces technologies use a frequency band that permits network operators to extend wireless broadband signals significantly farther than other bands, while requiring less infrastructure and increasing affordability.”
Microsoft’s announcement comes at a time when other technology companies are developing ways to deliver internet connectivity to tens of millions of people living in rural areas in the U.S. and other underserved markets.
The company is targeting to have pilot programs up and running within the next year in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.