The recent news around opening up of White Space spectrum was significant because it allowed introduction of devices that could provide broadband internet access over fairly large distances. These would bring the internet to rural and less accessible areas.
A similar technology that promises to increase access to internet is Broadband over power line. The appeal of broadband over power lines is that rural areas are not commercially attractive areas for companies to create dedicated internet infrastructure. But power companies already have established stretches of power lines. At its core Broadband over Power lines is about sending data over the power lines on a frequency that does not interfere with the frequency of electric current. A modem plugged into the socket at the receiver end decodes the signal and routes the packets to computers.
An excerpt from News.com:
In recent years, new modulation techniques supported by other technological advances have helped BPL evolve. Most services today are capable of delivering between 512Kbps and 3Mbps of throughput, which is comparable to most DSL offerings.
In rural areas in particular, BPL technology could finally bring high-speed Internet access to people who otherwise couldn’t get it. Traditional phone and cable companies often find it too expensive to deploy new infrastructure to provide service to the far reaches of rural America.
The impediments in adoption of Broadband over power lines has been the limited speed as compared to cable or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and interference with other radio frequencies. Recently IBM bagged a $9 million worth project from International Broadband Electric Communications Inc to install equipment that could potentially provide internet access to 340,000 homes in Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Latest developments in this field also include technology to detect presence of other signals in a frequency before transmission. Many projects in past years have failed to provide complete implementation of this, but that is no reason to lose hope in a technology that could potentially provide access to a wide majority excluded from Internet as we know it.