The high speed broadband is organized through the TV signals across the Rural America. Microsoft is attempting to tap the unused channels found between TV broadcasts and known as white spaces.
Initially the intention is to use them to pipe broadband to 12 different states. Get two million rural Americans enjoying high-speed Internet access over the next five years. According to The New York Times there’s over 24 million Americans living in rural areas without access to the Internet. All of them are potential customers and white space broadband is a way of reaching them.
White space broadband just like supercharged Wi-Fi. Using low-power TV channels travel much greater distances than the Wi-Fi. It also offers the benefit of being better than cellular signals in terms of power and can therefore offer better coverage.
Microsoft assume $200 for a white space wireless router
There are a couple of big hurdles for Microsoft to overcome, though. The regulation and convincing both state and federal regulators to allow white spaces to use for broadband. Microsoft will face opposition from TV broadcasters who believe using white space interferes with their channels.
The second is equipment, or a lack of it. Microsoft needs hardware manufacturers to produce the required hardware to support white space broadband and to do so cheaply. Currently such devices cost over $1,000 each, but Microsoft believes it can get that figure below $200. We can assume that’s sub-$200 for a white space wireless router for each home.
Whether white space broadband becomes a viable option or not is unknown. If Microsoft can convince regulators to embrace it then the cheaper hardware will follow. Ultimately Microsoft wants to be the company that makes it happen, but will leave the running of such services to local ISPs.