The multinational technology company Microsoft plans to stretch out the internet across rural communities in the US through the air instead of cables. They plan to use the white space television bandwidth, which can help bring high-speed broadband internet to those who can’t access it because of the location they live in.
White spaces are the gaps between television channels on the wireless spectrum that is below 700MHz which are intentionally placed for buffering purposes, and serve as “breathing room” between channels. But if these gaps are to be used for internet purposes, they will have superior reach over conventional WiFi, since it has the ability to get connection over 10 kilometers away, and can easily travel through buildings or vegetation.
Source: YouTube, Microsoft
This technology has been promoted by Microsoft for years, and have already launched trials in the Philippines, Kenya, Colombia and England. The company also plans to invest in 12 projects in 12 states over the next year with their goal of bringing broadband internet to 2 million people in rural areas in America by July 4, 2022.
However, not everyone agrees with Microsoft’s plan. There are trade groups that are worried that Microsoft might interfere with television broadcasts and clog-up the parts of the wireless spectrum that they are using. But Microsoft plans to make these white spaces a legacy project, like how coast-to-coast telephone communication was achieved in 1916. They note that like “phones (which took 13 years to go from initial approval to the first available commercial products), Wi-Fi devices (which took 14 years) and 4G LTE devices (which took nine years), TV white spaces technologies presented numerous technological and other hurdles that had to be overcome to make them a feasible solution for closing the digital divide.”
Broadband is delivered to rural areas using TV white space antenna. Source: Microsoft
Microsoft is advertising their efforts in Virginia. The company has given $250,000 to Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., along with equal or greater donations from local groups. With these, they were able to give white space internet to 1,000 homes.