Better Internet for Rural Areas?


Can’t get internet at your house? Are you and your neighbors left out of the digital world?  Are you frustrated at slow speeds if you do get on? Rural communities are increasingly left on the down side of the digital divide.  But there may be some hope.  Two years ago, televisions moved from analog to digital and the frequencies left empty are about to be used.  A new IEEE 802.22 standard will provide signal in some areas for internet service of up to 22 megabits per second.  That is faster than most of fiber connections to private homes right now!

According to this article,

The frequencies now available, from 54MHz to 698MHz, can maintain signals over vast distances, probably longer distances than sending television signals on the same frequencies. People living within 20 or 30 miles of a base station will probably have strong signals using indoor “rabbit ear” antennas. Those further away from the base transmitters will need roof-mounted antennas that will be similar to the television antennas many of us have used for decades.

Distances will vary, depending upon the terrain, but most IEEE 802.22 standard base stations will send and receive signals for about 62 miles.

The base stations most likely will be owned and operated by today’s cell phone companies and various Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, BellSouth, RoadRunner, and others.

You can expect to see this new, high-speed coverage in a few areas within a year and it will probably be available most everywhere in the U.S. within five years.


  • Hi Kym, We have a lot of information about this at Carlson Wireless in Arcata, where we’ve been developing a product to operate in these vacated TV frequencies.

    Here is a brief white paper on the subject if any of your readers want to know more about the possibilities of this new technology for rural broadband

    • Thank you for the paper. I just read it . How long before Carlson’s RuralConnect™ is ready for use? Do you have any idea of the costs involved for customers?

      • Our RuralConnect IP is ready to go as soon as the FCC finalizes the rules for tracking which frequencies are available in which communities. We estimate October this year.

        As I mention in my comment below, Internet service providers use TV white space equipment to cover “failed installs,” areas they have not been able to serve before because of signal obstacles like trees and hills.

        This is not a costly solution; quite the opposite since it doesn’t require additional towers to be built. Under FCC-granted experimental license, our service provider customers use RuralConnect IP to provide service to hundreds of new customers at the same costs their other customers pay.

  • As with anything, it sounds great. New technologies are usually very expensive. I have no doubt that Carlson’s team can produce a top quality link. But….. Theres always a “but”. It will probably be awhile before it is afordable to the averge person. I haven’t heard any cost projections, short term, long term.

  • I am currently using 101 netlink as it is one of the options available to the whitethorn area. It is allot faster than dial up and faster than the hugh’s net and blue? . The down side is it is pretty pricey especially if you go over the allotted amount per month which happens pretty easily. So no unlimited use. I dont have “tv” so we dont have that bill which kind of balances it out.. But, then again, will big brother be pulling the plug on the internet if they feel like it?

  • I switched from Hughes to 101 Netlink this last winter. The price for basic service is about the same, but ove-rusage is handled much better on 101.

    With Hughes one gets a daily allowance. Exceed that and you get throttled back to less than dial up speed for 24 hours. If Windows and Java decided to do an update on the same day you can find yourself going unreasonably slow for a while. Go away for a couple of weeks and you will be toast the first time you turn on your computer.

    101 sells you a basic monthly allowance. Exceed that and you can buy another big block of up/down for $10. I love having that option.

    Plus with 101 I’ve experienced no weather outages, definitely a Hughes problem. And getting rid of the satellite up/down lag has been enjoyable.

  • Providers use different technologies to get Internet to you, and each of the technologies has its pros and cons. Hughes is a satellite provider, while 101Netlink uses microwave (radio signals in the GHz range).

    Not all rural regions can be reached with microwave, however, because equipment requires line-of-sight between components, difficult to achieve in rugged terrain.

    TV signal, on the other hand, is in the MHz range (ground waves) so it has the capacity to penetrate obstacles and go over hills. That is what makes it a good solution for the hard-to-reach rural areas.

    Carlson Wireless manufactures the radio equipment that service providers use to get Internet service to you. TV white space technology is in its early development phase, and under experimental license, service providers currently use our RuralConnect IP to cover difficult areas in their territory, bringing Internet access to customers they couldn’t serve before. These customers pay the same rate as all their customers.

  • Carlson Wireless did hook shit up with the antennas at my spot and my boy shot the laser mirror status shot back up to the tree-tenna looooooking miles away Earnie.

    Internet box been up 3 years without a nar but a mite since. Carlson do prolly got new stuff I would be down to buy except y’all parts didn’t break so not like imma be buying shit that is working.

  • The Real Bear River

    Cute kid in the picture, Kym…. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *