U.S. Reps challenge FCC to expand rural broadband access with unused TV 'white space'

Jessica Kim Cohen - Print  | 

A bipartisan coalition of 43 House Representatives asked Federal Communications Commission officials to prioritize using TV "white space" to promote rural broadband access, according to a July 31 letter.

The members of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, led by Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., noted the FCC's "2016 Broadband Progress Report" indicated 34 million Americans do not have internet access, with 24 million in rural communities lacking network infrastructure necessary for broadband connection.

To address this issue, the coalition recommended using TV white spaces, or unused broadcasting frequencies on TV networks. These frequencies are a cost-effective way to extend broadband to remote rural areas, since they require minimal infrastructure investments, according to the Representatives.

The coalition specified FCC should "preserve at least three, 6 MHz television white spaces channels in every media market across the United States" to promote affordable broadband access.

"Robust low-cost broadband connections literally connect rural communities to the rest of the world," the letter reads, adding, as an example, "doctors in rural health clinics would be able to access life-saving information through broadband connected networks with urban medical centers."

Click here to view the full letter.

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