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Will the 700 Mhz Band Bring Broadband to Rural Areas?

Aug 17, 2007
Parts of rural America have broadband internet access and I guess you could say it is available to everyone if you consider the satelite services which cover the entire country which are ridiculously expensive for the initial setup and monthly service. There also is a patchwork of local providers offering wireless internet services off of water towers and grain elevators and buildings. These services are limited in the amount of bandwidth they can offer, not because the wireless gear is not capable of high speeds, but because the actual t1s or t3s to provide the backhaul to the internet are so expensive.

The nice thing about this particular spectrum is it will go through trees, walls, and just about anything for a long distance from a central broadcast point. So the cost of deployment is reduced because one central broadcast station will cover a large area and the cost of setting it up and providing internet access is spread over more customers. This is all contingent upon local providers being able to gain access to the spectrum in their area.

Google started a discussion about this spectrum and tried to influence the FCC to require the purchaser of the spectrum to provide access to third parties at wholesale prices. I am not sure what wholesale prices means but to a company like Verizon it means another chance to gouge anyone who wants put up the amount they will arbitrarily come up with.

I think if some company is going to rent a piece of this spectrum in their area it should be cheap, cheap to the point it is a negligible expense in the operation of an ISP\'s costs to provide internet access. The telcos like to promote themselves as service providers. If one of them gets this spectrum let them do a real service to this country and provide cheap access to everyone who is willing to do something valuable with the spectrum in their area.

Each election cycle politicians have spouted crap about bringing broadband access to rural areas. First of all, I do not think they really know anything about the business and the technology. Secondly, they have ignored the large group of small companies that have already been providing broadband access in rural areas. Finally, they have been all to happy to take money from telcos that maintain a stranglehold on access out to the internet by charging too much for broadband circuits to carry rural traffic to the internet.
About the Author
Michael Dappert is a co-founder of Winco, Inc., a provider of wireless internet access to small communities in West Central Illinois. More articles and discussion can be found at Mike's Garden Blog and discusses a wide range of topics at Flyoverfolks.com .
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