Contributed by Jacqueline Janorschke
MISSOURI— Low population density is just one of the factors delaying rural Americans from receiving affordable and reliable broadband. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that 61 percent of rural Missourians did not have access to broadband, compared to only five percent of urban residents that lacked access.
Jacqueline Janorschke spoke with Microsoft’s Zachary Cikanek regarding rural broadband access in Missouri.
Click below to hear their conversation, which aired Friday on KMZU.
According to the report, the Show-Me state is ranked 42nd for rural connectivity and has more than one million residents without access to broadband. Only two other states, California and Texas, the most populous states in raw numbers, have more than one million rural residents without access to broadband internet.
Since Missouri already ranks comparatively low to other states, this puts rural Missourians even further behind.
Connect Americans Now is a coalition founded in January of 2018 by Microsoft, the National Rural Education Association and others. Their goal is to create a dialogue with policymakers on the most effective ways to bring better broadband to unserved and underserved communities where fiber optic cables haven’t been rolled out due to the high cost of serving a small customer base. One of the ways Connect Americans Now plans to combat this is by using TV white spaces.
TV white spaces are frequencies that aren’t being used locally by the television broadcaster that was licensed to use them.
“These channels happen to be ideal for delivering high-speed internet in rural areas,” said Microsoft’s Zachary Cikanek.
One of the reasons these channels are ideal is because they can relay information through trees and other obstacles.
Connect Americans Now is rallying supporters in Washington to make the TV white space available to rural internet service providers so they have access to a wider range of tools that they can use to connect rural homes and businesses.
“If people are interested in learning more, signing up to become a member of the coalition or writing a letter to the FCC or Congress, we tools available at www.ConnectAmericansNow.com,” Cikanek said.