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A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) devoted to “Unlicensed White Space Device Operations in the Television Bands” has gotten the affirmative nod of two governors in the western U.S., as well as the Western Governors’ Association itself.
With expanding connectivity for rural Americans a key goal, the governors applauded the FCC’s efforts to improve rural broadband access, calling it “crucial” in achieving those goals.
That said, they’ve been in support of the NPRM’s basics since April 2018, when they first wrote to Chairman Ajit Pai and the Commissioners on the matter.
“Many western communities lack access to broadband internet due to the high cost of infrastructure and the low number of customers in potential service areas,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in the correspondence from two years ago. “This has left many rural businesses at a competitive disadvantage and citizens without access to telework, telemedicine, and distance learning opportunities.”
Internet service in parts of Hawaii is particularly challenged, with Hawaiian Telecom the lone option in areas not serviced by Charter’s Spectrum.
For these state leaders, TV White Spaces (TVWS) technology represents one possible mechanism to deliver reliable internet access at lower costs to more far-flung regions of their respective states.
“TVWS technology may be well suited for deployment in some rural areas due to its low-cost infrastructure requirements and ability to transmit signals over long distances and through rugged terrain,” Ige and Daugaard said.
Pilot projects in 13 states – including Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington – will help determine the viability of TVWS technology in rural areas, they noted.
“The long-term success of TVWS technology relies on consistent access to spectrum,” the two governors said. “We ask that adequate spectrum capacity be reserved for unlicensed use to support the growth of TVWS technology in rural communities.”
That’s exactly what the NPRM seeks, and the governors’ association is pleased.
“The NPRM considers several technical proposals to improve the utility of TVWS devices in rural areas,” it notes. “These include higher allowable transit power and antenna height for fixed TVWS devices in ‘less congested’ areas. WGA supports these proposed updates as they will enable TVWS technologies to offer improved broadband coverage in rural communities.”