TV White Spaces may offer more Internet access for rural Montana

By John Riley

HELENA – Local Business Leaders and Elected Officials were given the chance to learn more about TV White Space Technology which hopes to increase internet access to rural residents.

TV White Space Technology uses the unused spectrum between over the air TV station channels to provide broadband internet.

The round-table discussion was hosted by Connect Americans Now on Tuesday in Helena. The group says that the implementation of this technology will help eliminate the gap between those who have access to the internet and those who don’t.

Attendees included representatives from The Montana Rural Education Association, Montana Telecommunication Association, Helena Chamber of Commerce, Senator Daines’ Office, Congressman Gianforte’s Office and more.

Hunter Ross of Connect Americans Now says in the modern day internet access is a necessity and this technology will help fill in the gaps in coverage.

“The internet now is central to any sort of business,” says Ross, “In order to have a first world economy we cannot have third-world internet.”

“Right now we think that if we adopt TV White Spaces and use it effectively with fiber and satellite we can cut the cost of bridging the digital divide by 80%,” says Ross.

Attendees of the meeting gave feedback and expressed some concerns about white space technology limitations such as the current lack of infrastructure.

Montana Telecommunications Association General Manager Geoff Feiss attended the forum and told MTN that the technology could be viable for Montana in certain cases.

Fiess says he’s always glad to have another tool in the toolbox but this won’t solve every issue rural Montana faces in regards to communication.

“I think they’re overselling both the problem and the solution,” says Fiess, “But more power to them if they can expand the technology and we’re happy to work with them moving forward.”

Connect Americans Now says that in order to provide stable and reliable services through white space technology the FCC will need to open an additional channel to what is currently allocated to white space use.

The National Association of Broadcasters, of which this station is a member, has expressed serious concerns over use of the unlicensed spectrum and the relocation of hundreds of full power television stations into the now considered broadcast band.

For more information about TV White Space visit their website.

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