Television White Spaces Can Bring Broadband to the Heartland

July 11, 2017 - 2 minutes read

This afternoon, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith is going to give a keynote speech at the Microsoft Inspire convention discussing the critical importance of improving the infrastructure for rural broadband. In a global economy where a high-speed broadband connection is necessary to participate and thrive, 34 million Americans do not have internet access. This “digital divide” already has a devastating impact on the American heartland, but as eHealth app developers know, these communities are only going to fall farther behind as technology becomes even more central to the world’s economy. Of course, it’s not just these remote communities that suffer from their isolation — the whole world is missing out on the innovations that could be coming from these tragically unconnected areas.

Along with our friends at ACT – The App Association, a group that proudly advocates for app developers across the country, Dogtown Media supports the use of Television White Spaces (TVWS) to bridge the “digital divide.” TVWS are unused spectrum channels in between television channels. With White Spaces, data can be transmitted at high speeds for several square miles from the broadcast point of origin. Since they are a largely untouched pre-existing resource, TVWS are a cost-effective solution to the problem of unconnected rural communities. They could provide the high upload/download speeds that 39% of rural Americans live without.

Television White Spaces have been designated as “unlicensed” bands by the FCC, but ACT and Dogtown believe that companies should be able to use this part of the spectrum to develop 5G infrastructure. Several rural communities are already experimenting with White Spaces to solve their connectivity issues, using this untapped spectrum to support the wireless drones that are modernizing farming or to power eHealth solutions in isolated hospitals. The “digital divide” may seem like a faraway problem to Bay Area eHealth app developers, but it’s important to remember that the app community is powered by Americans from all over the country. Rural access to broadband is crucial for the continued growth and development of the booming app economy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,