State Lawmakers Push to Support ‘White Space’ Broadband Technologies

Wisconsin lawmakers are calling for more certainty for those developing “white space” broadband technologies.

Tech companies want to use portions of the TV spectrum to deliver broadband service to rural areas. Advocates of the technology say it can be implemented more reliably and at greater distance than other wireless broadband options, and that it’s cheaper and faster than running fiber optic cables to areas that could take years to receive service.

Despite the push to develop the technology, which relies on unused TV frequencies for access, it has so far only seen limited testing in the United States. State Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) says a lack of certainty from the federal government on the same three frequencies remaining available is a big reason for development being slowed down.

“Until there is regulatory certainty out of the FCC that these three channels will be available, dedicated…that investment from the private sector is not going to happen as fast as we want,” she argues.

Republican state lawmakers have proposed a resolution that would have the state join those asking the FCC and Congress to provide that certainty to developers. Once it’s there, Felzkowski says there are estimates that the technology could address most of the state’s rural broadband access issues over the course of the next five to seven years. “The laying of the fiber and the cost to do that is going to be much longer,” she argues.

Lawmakers expect the resolution to be taken up and passed by the state Assembly and Senate later this month.