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Connect Americans Now (CAN) Executive Director Richard T. Cullen joined members of the Wisconsin Legislature in Madison last week, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt regulations that will ensure TV white space technology can be utilized to deliver broadband to under-served areas throughout the state.

“At Connect Americans Now, we have a plan to close the digital divide in the next five years, but we need action in Washington to match the action we see here in Wisconsin to make it a reality,” said Cullen at the press conference. “With the support of Representative Felzkowski, Senator Marklein and the Rural Wisconsin Initiative, we are sending a strong signal to Washington: it’s time to take action on the digital divide.” 

State Representative Mary Felzkowski and State Senator Howard Marklein, along with several other legislators unveiled a joint resolution on Jan. 10 that focuses on TV White Space technology and how it may help connect rural Wisconsinites to affordable and reliable broadband.

The announcement follows a letter Felzkowski sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, requesting that the commission adopts “the regulations needed to allow TV white space technology as an option for broadband access in the market.” 

To provide affordable and reliable service in rural communities, CAN seeks to deploy a combination of “wired” and “wireless” technologies, including fiber-based, satellite, and wireless technologies, leveraging a range of frequencies including TV white spaces. To make this plan a reality, CAN is urging the FCC to ensure that three channels below 700 MHz are available for wireless use on an unlicensed basis in every market in the country, with additional TV white spaces in smaller markets and rural areas. 

“We hear from constituents every week asking us when broadband will finally reach their doors,” Felzkowski said. “It is often a frustrating process for them and for us because we cannot always do something to help. With this joint resolution, we continue to prioritize broadband connectivity by pursuing yet another option that may have the ability to deliver internet faster and further than current technology allows.” 

Broadband expansion in rural southwest Wisconsin is one of my top priorities, Marklein said.

“I am encouraged by the potential of this technology and I want to doeverything I can to remove obstacles for possible solutions. When we passed the state budget, we fine-tuned the grant program so that new technology would be eligible for state support. The white space opportunity demonstrates exactly why we must be nimble and willing to try new technology to meet the needs of rural families.” 

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