By: Virginia Carnes
The East Oregonian
As mayor of Pilot Rock, I firmly believe that communities should be united in working to ensure affordable, reliable internet access in rural areas of Oregon and throughout the country. About 34 million Americans lack a broadband connection and the vast majority — 23.4 million — live in rural areas. Of Oregon’s total population (roughly 4 million), 16.2 percent live in rural areas. For education, business, health care, agriculture and more, it is critical that we close the digital divide in rural areas.
One fo the best ways to do this is by utilizing TV white space, the unused broadcast frequencies through which television was traditionally transmitted. This technology is expected to provide the best approach to reach approximately 80 percent of the underserved rural population, particularly in areas with lower population density.
For this to work, the FCC needs to set aside sufficient wireless spectrum in each market of the country for broadband coverage. Just like the spectrum used for walkie talkies and garage door openers, no single company would have exclusive rights to use the channels, and anyone offering consumers a better experience at a lower price could compete.
We hope our elected officials, such as Congressman Greg Walden, will lead this effort to help our communities prosper.