Microsoft has been pushing to use unused spaces between TV channels for broadband internet for more than 10 years now and has been promoting it as a solution for rural broadband provisioning for about as long.
In their latest initiative, they are planning to turn school buses in rural Michigan into WIFI hotspots, allowing students without broadband at home to complete school assignments while making long trips to and from school.
Microsoft applied to the FCC for permission for the scheme in Hillman, Michigan, and said it will deliver internet to the busses using White Spaces via several repeaters along the route of the busses. The service would automatically shut down once busses left the trial area.
The radio frequency uses by TV broadcasts have the advantage of very long range and good penetration into structures, making it ideal for rural service delivery.
“The proposed deployment would help … by providing high-speed wireless Internet access on school buses as they complete their morning and afternoon routes,” the filing reads. “This will allow students without suitable connections at home to complete assignments that require broadband Internet access while they are on their way to and from school.”
Microsoft notes that Hillman has very little cable internet, and of the 3 satellite service providers in the area, only one met the definition of the deliverng broadband internet.
Microsoft currently has other White Spaces trials going on in USA, including experiments in Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Virginia and Washington state, with applications from farming to education.
Microsoft has been trying to sell the service as a social good but has had opposition from National Association of Broadcasters who complain that Microsoft wants to appropriate spectrum without paying the billions of dollars it normally costs to secure it.
Read more about Microsoft’s White Space efforts here.
Via Post Gaum