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Bob Larson Microsoft Connecting America Pt 3
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Washington State Farm Bureau Report
Date: May 27, 2019

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With today's Fruit Grower Report, I'm Bob Larson. One answer to connecting rural farmers and ranchers to the internet could be as simple as utilizing the old UHF bands formerly used to transmit television channels to those rabbit ear antennas that use to sat atop your TV set.

Connect Americans Now is a group of organizations, led by Microsoft, that are working to reallocate those bands for broadband transmission.

The coalition's spokesman, Zachary Cikanek ...

CIKANEK ... "But, the problem with those signals is they can't carry as much information as a higher frequency signal so it's not very useful for internet connectivity. But, right in that sweet spot in the center of the spectrum where we used to have television broadcasting, you have frequencies that are vacant right now that could be used by internet service providers that could deliver broadband quality speeds to homes and businesses that have never been connected before."

Cikanek says the biggest hurdle is FCC regulations ...

CIKANEK ... "In the past, those particular channels have been allocated specifically for television broadcasting and while they remain vacant, they're still unavailable for other uses. And so, what we're doing is we're working without champions in Congress, rural lawmakers, with the USDA, and having a conversation with the FCC so as they re-allocate that empty spectrum, they make sure that rural internet service providers have access to a couple of channels."

Cikanek says not only will this benefit farmers, but it could also give rural communities the chance to take full advantage of all the things reliable internet access offers like medical specialists, educational opportunities, and agricultural businesses.

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