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Rural Cooperatives Deliver High-Speed Internet for Less

Tired of waiting, some rural residents are funding their own Wi-Fi networks to bring broadband to their homes

3 min read
A photo of one of four towers used to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi service to residents in the village of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.
Wi-Fi For All: A co-op installed four towers to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi service to residents in the village of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.
Photo: Brian Reid

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed a rule update in April that would make it easier for people to install wireless repeater antennas—also known as signal boosters. In some rural regions, Wi-Fi can be the best way to extend the reach of fiber-optic networks at broadband speeds and at affordable prices.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the lobbying group that proposed the change, argues that it’s necessary to keep up with market forces that are driving networks toward smaller hubs operating over shorter ranges. The update would also make it easier for communities to build more of their own Internet infrastructure. Already, despite rules in 26 U.S. states that create obstacles for community networks, some 3 million Americans, mostly rural, get their Internet that way.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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