VFI Leader Titu Sarder Highlights Educational Opportunities of TVWS
On October 18, I joined a group of small tech business leaders who went to Washington to meet with commissioners and staff of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
We presented a letter signed by nearly 300 Voices for Innovation business leaders, and we echoed the letter’s core message in person: to close America’s digital divide, the FCC must preserve three channels of TV white spaces (TVWS) spectrum for wireless high-speed internet in every U.S. market.
The U.S. is a global technology and economic leader, yet 34 million Americans still do not have adequate access to broadband. We told FCC commissioners that they must take action to spur the deployment of proven technology that will carry high-speed internet on unused TV spectrum airwaves (TV white spaces) to Americans who lack broadband access.
Commissioners Brendan Carr and Mignon Clyburn, as well as legal advisors for Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, were receptive to our message, but they wanted to hear more. They wanted to hear about the real-world impacts of TVWS broadband. Our VFI delegation was happy to share examples, including my own.
Unleashing the Power of Online Learning
My company, NetCom Learning, is committed to helping individuals and businesses excel by providing best-in-class distance learning courses, primarily focused on technology skills. Through NetCom Learning, businesses can empower their employees with skills training and certifications. As important, we enable individuals to acquire technology skills and certifications that help them get a job, earn more money, and advance their careers.
But, as I told FCC commissioners and staff, the educational and training opportunities provided by NetCom Learning cannot be accessed without a high-speed internet connection. Our nation has a huge shortage of people with IT skills, yet more than 10 percent of our population is cut off from online education that could help close this gap. TVWS broadband can be a game-changer for millions of Americans who want to acquire new skills and work in technology.
My company’s story, along with examples highlighting improved government services, empowered small businesses, and distance employment opportunities, clearly resonated at the FCC. I’m certain our meetings made an impact—and hopefully the FCC will take action on this issue soon.
Following Up with Commissioner Clyburn
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was especially interested in my example of how online and distance learning opportunities could improve the lives of people living in small towns and rural communities. She was so interested, in fact, that she asked to discuss the topic further when she was in New York for Silicon Harlem’s Next Gen Tech conference on October 27.
At the New York event, Commissioner Clyburn provided the audience with an update on FCC activities—and she raised the potential of expanding broadband access through TVWS! She noted that affordable, accessible broadband is needed in urban and rural communities alike. We connected again, and I had a chance to voice my support for TVWS again and communicate that this technology can open opportunities for everyone.
I’m hopeful that Commissioner Clyburn will do more than support TVWS broadband. She could be the leading champion within the FCC for expanding broadband across our nation by opening up three channels of TVWS spectrum. I’m gratified that my company’s story helped make her an ally.
Titu Sarder is co-founder and president of NetCom Learning, a leading provider of online tech education for consumers, businesses, and government. Titu is a member of VFI’s Advisory Task Force and president of the New York City Chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP).