An interesting concept... Microsoft is planning broadcast internet to rural areas using unused TV frequencies.
"The system is known as white-spaces technology and uses wireless frequencies that are in the band reserved for over-the-air TV broadcasts but aren't currently being used. While Microsoft plans to use some of these frequencies, it wants the government to reserve at least three frequencies in each local area for use with the technology." infopackets after NYT
This is planned in 12 projects in 12 states including Arizona, Kansas, New York and Virginia.
This isn't the first time MS is doing something like this: "Microsoft has promoted the technology for years, launching trials in England, Kenya, Colombia and the Philippines.", per Popular Mechanics.
The neat part is that opposed to the usual frequencies used by mobile devices, the TV frequencies are longer, and therefore can penetrate structures much better.
This isn't free, though. At this point (without economies of scale), the devices in homes/offices would cost $1,000 but that (according to MS) should decrease to $200. The devices are just specialized routers and modems. What I'm not seeing, though, is solutions compatible for the rural poor...who could use it to get a leg up on education, etc. required for the modern marketplace. The rural market is large: 24.3 million customers...and it would be a monopoly for MS, except that they plan to work with local ISPs:
"Microsoft said its goal was not to become a telecom provider. It will work with local internet service providers like Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities in Virginia and Axiom Technologies in Maine by investing in some of the capital costs and then sharing in revenue. It has also opened its patents on the technology and teamed with chip makers to make devices that work with white spaces cheaper.
“We’re looking at this to be price competitive for people in urban areas,” Mr. Smith said. “There is no reason people in rural areas need to spend more.” MS President Brad Smith
Another thorn is that TV broadcasters with neighboring frequencies are complaining to the government regarding potential interference.
Still, it's a new tech and well worth it for folks in cut off rural areas.