Tuning Into the Future

Image of falling televisions over New York City

By Martha Suárez and Hender Jimenezl

Channeling TV White Space (TVWS) and Spectrum Sharing —

During the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I moved to a beautiful country town in the northeast of Colombia where my father has a small farm. It is a nice place to stay during the quarantine and we feel extremely lucky to be here. However, despite the lovely landscape, the fresh air, and the calm, broadband Internet access is a huge issue.

Fiber optic networks and microwave links are not an option here because the users in this region are farmers and countryside households that require an affordable price and not a business-oriented solution. For now, mobile coverage using 2G and 3G technologies is the only alternative; which, at best, is enough to receive WhatsApp messages and check some emails. But it cannot sustain video calls or common telework platforms like GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc., making working from home a big challenge.

This has been an interesting experience, and I have learned a lot about local companies who are trying to provide a better Internet service in rural regions like this one. Having spoken to multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs), I have discovered many small, but very active, companies working to provide Internet to local households.

However, when I asked these ISPs about the TV White Space (TVWS) technology, they had not heard about it — despite TVWS regulations being in place in Colombia since 2017.

Can that archaic thing called television and creative spectrum sharing bring HS broadband to the underserved?

Originally published on isemag.com November 1, 2020