BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Doug Burgum and Congressman Kevin Cramer announced they will begin circulating letters for signature within the House of Representatives and across all 50 states to encourage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt new spectrum standards so a breakthrough high-speed wireless broadband technology can be made available across the United States, and specifically rural America.
The broadband technology, known as TV White Spaces (TVWS) and developed by Microsoft, is a low-cost alternative to other conventional broadband platforms such as 4G or traditional fiber-optic broadband deployment. Much like a conventional Wi-Fi signal, TVWS can travel more than 10 miles on a single antenna and produce internet speeds of more than 100 megabits per second, making it perfect for use in extremely remote areas of rural America.
Because TVWS operates on a portion of the existing broadband spectrum that is mostly unused, the wireless internet signal is low-cost, requires minimal infrastructure, and is more dependable than the limited connections available in many rural areas. As part of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, they are giving royalty-free access to at least 39 patents and sample source code for companies to develop and deploy TVWS technology.
“Believing strongly in the power of technology and innovation to drive economic growth, we recognize that white space spectrum has the potential to dramatically expand access and reduce the costs of high-speed internet, especially for our nation’s rural communities,” Burgum said. “Broadband internet can transform communities, whether it’s connecting students to new skills, helping doctors treat their patients or empowering businesses to reach new markets and create new jobs.”
“As Members of Congress, we like to stress the importance of eliminating the ‘digital divide‘ in America – this new technology could be one solution to do just that,“ said Cramer. “The public spectrum is owned by the taxpayers of this country, and to the best of our ability, we need make sure it‘s being used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Opening up one more channel of spectrum for unlicensed use will allow the TV White Space industry to take shape in the United States, and will bring us one step closer to giving 35 million Americans access to high-speed internet for the very first time.“
Over the coming weeks, Cramer and Burgum will seek signatures on their respective letters with the goal of freeing up unlicensed spectrum for TVWS broadband. Specifically, the letters will urge the FCC to preserve at least three 6 MHz television white space channels in every media market across the United States in order to promote access to affordable broadband internet, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
In the House of Representatives, Congressman Cramer is leading the letter along with Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mark Meadows, and Austin Scott. As a co-chair of the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction of the FCC, Cramer continues to look for solutions to solve the digital divide across North Dakota and Rural America.
Burgum will be circulating a letter among the nation’s governors in the coming weeks, encouraging their endorsement of the new technology.