Wednesday, February 5, 2020

FCC takes another look at TV whitespaces for broadband

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a proposal to his fellow commissioners that would provide new opportunities for unlicensed white space devices for wireless broadband services in rural areas.  Specifically, Chairman Pai is proposing to permit higher transmit power and higher antennas for fixed white space devices in rural areas.  If adopted, these changes would allow white space devices to reach users at greater distances, thus enabling improved broadband coverage.  Higher power would also enable signals to better penetrate foliage, buildings, and other obstacles.  Additionally, his proposal would permit higher power mobile operations within geo-fenced areas and proposes rule revisions to facilitate the development of new and innovative narrowband Internet of Things-based services.  The FCC will vote on the proposal on February 28th.

“TV white spaces can play a critical role in providing broadband services to rural and underserved areas,” said Chairman Pai.  “I saw the promise of this technology in South Boston, a town in rural Virginia, where I met a student who said getting Internet access in his home was a game-changer.  The FCC has taken steps to enable the use of white spaces over the years, and this new proposal would further help bridge the digital divide while protecting TV stations.”

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