TV White Spaces Group Boosts Ranks – Where is CA? [Updated 03-22-18]

Connect Americans Now, a coalition backing the use of TV White Spaces to expand access to rural broadband, now has 100 members. Its membership includes Microsoft and ACT | The App Association.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

From the Connect America Now website:

Implications of the Digital Divide

• 6.5 million students lack access to high-speed internet, but 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection. This means that millions of students – most often in rural areas – struggle to keep up with their assignments and fail to learn the computer skills they need to succeed and enter college or the workforce.

• Telemedicine could collectively save lives and millions of dollars annually for underserved patients and rural hospitals that pay up to three times more for broadband than their urban counterparts. Broadband allows patients, regardless of where they live, to access specialists and benefit from advanced monitoring services that would normally require hours of travel for patients or their providers.

• Broadband access brings the promise of precision agriculture, including remote monitoring equipment that helps farmers save money by optimizing irrigation, conserving resources and increasing yields. It also allows farmers to search for new customers, find buyers willing to pay higher prices and identify the most affordable sources of seeds, fertilizers and farm equipment.

• Broadband access will drive economic growth and job opportunities by enabling rural small businesses to expand their customer base from local to global and attract new industries to rural communities.High-speed internet supports workforce development by allowing rural job seekers to access services online, develop new skills through cloud-based training and secure additional employment opportunities like remote teleworking. It will also allow rural communities to keep and attract new workers who require a broadband connection to carry out their daily responsibilities.

Looking at the Membership list HERE, I was disappointed by the lack of California organizations who are supporting White Space TV. Cal.Net is using White Space TV technology to provide access to highly forested areas along SR-49 in Calaveras County and Tuolumne County. Carlson Wireless Technologies in Eureka, California, manufactures White Space TV equipment. The technology is here, where are the community and government support?

It is clear from the Connect America Now membership list that Oregon, which has many highly forested areas, has strong support from multiple organizations. The Mendocino County Broadband Alliance is one California group on board.  More California organizations should be supporting this technology, especially those in the highly forested Sierra? Where is the support from organizations like the Sierra Business Council, Rural County Representatives of California, Nevada County Economic Resource Council, the CPUC’s rural broadband Consortia, and other community organizations? More on this issues in a future post.

[Update ]  Information on White Space TV technology and strategy is HERE

[Update 03-22-18]

The GCBC Team at the Sierra Business Council reports that Plumas Sierra has been beta testing white space TV in Calpine successfully.

“If it turns out to be a good option, they will be looking into building the infrastructure needed to bring it to Sierraville. It, unfortunately, is not an option in Sierra City. We have been keeping our eye on the technology as we do realize it to be a good option for our rural areas and hope to see it implemented where possible.”

This is good news, let’s hope the tests continue to be successful.  Highly forested Sierra areas are a challenge, as radio wave cannot penetrate foliage, especially when it is wet.  5G millimeter wave technology is even a bigger challenge in rural areas due to the line of site requirements free of all foliage.  The TV White Space frequencies between 650-700 Mhz are a better option in highly forested areas.

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