The lead sentence in an article from a newspaper in the nation’s most rural state says it all: “A decision expected early next week by the Federal Communications Commission could result in a major boost for Vermont’s efforts to bring high-speed Internet service to the entire state by the year 2010.” Daniel Barlow writes that the FCC will vote Election Day on whether to open television “white spaces” — frequencies that will be freed up once TV broadcasts go fully digital — for use for wireless broadband. “That change could be a boon for rural states such as Vermont, where these white spaces are abundant due to the lack of in-state television broadcasters,” Barlow wrote.
The use of white spaces for broadband is suited for rural states, Barlow wrote, because the signals pass through walls and trees, making broadband signals available in more isolated parts of the very rural state. A study released by the FCC found that these white spaces could be used for broadband without harming television signals.
Observers say there is an even chance that the FCC will delay its vote on the white spaces issue. Television broadcasters oppose the use of white spaces for broadband. Microsoft and Google favor opening white spaces to broadband providers.