Microsoft wants to connect rural America with TV white spaces


With roughly 23.4 rural Americans lacking broadband internet access, many companies have come forward with some “out-of-the-box” ideas in the hopes of getting everyone connected within the next five years. Microsoft is actually going back to the box so to speak to extend broadband coverage through TV white spaces.

TV white space is the unused spectrum in the UHF television bands. This powerful bandwidth is in the 600 MHz frequency range and enables wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees. It’s why people could watch television programs in rural communities long before the advent of satellite television. Through Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative, the company expects TV white spaces to provide the best approach to reach approximately 80 percent of the underserved rural population, particularly in areas with a population density between two and 200 people per square mile. 

Microsoft itself has considerable experience with this spectrum, having deployed 20 TV white spaces projects in 17 countries that have served 185,000 users. The FCC is considering rules which could result in at least three white space channels in every U.S. market to provide broadband Internet.

We had the opportunity to recently visit with Dr. Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research, to find out more about this project and the plan for getting it started in the U.S. Listen here:


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