U.P. company to use TV channels for faster wireless internet

Feb 28, 2018

A map of broadband access along the border of Michigan and Wisconsin. Areas in blue lack fixed broadband access, while areas in yellow have fixed broadband.
Credit Federal Communications Commission

Thousands more people could soon have broadband internet access in the Upper Peninsula. 

Software giant Microsoft Corp. has announced it’s partnering with Packerland Brodband, a small internet service provider based in Iron Mountain. 

They plan to use new wireless technology to connect some rural communities in Michigan and Wisconsin that currently lack fast internet connections.

 Around 15,000 people in the Upper Peninsula would have access to the connection, according to Packerland Broadband Vice President Cory Heigl. 

He says areas without fast internet are at an economic disadvantage.

 “It’s the new electricity,” Heigl says. “People have to be connected.”

Heigl says the company will use unused TV channels to connect communities, along with traditional wireless internet connections and some other technologies. 

Microsoft has experimented with using “TV White Spaces” as a medium for wireless internet for years. TV White Spaces are the unused portion of the UHF television spectrum. 

Microsoft has a goal of connecting millions of rural Americans with broadband internet by 2022. 

Heigl says the new connections will be available in some areas by mid-summer.

“It’s about those hundreds of phone calls we take every week, the people that are desperate for a real true broadband connection,” Heigl says.