Connecting the Unconnected to the Internet in the US
This Rift Valley Resources Corp. profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
Rift Valley Resources Corp. (CSE:RVR) has developed a unique portable wireless broadband system as well as fixed wireless broadband networks that utilize TV white space technology. In the US, a recent survey by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) determined that “162 million do not use the internet at broadband speeds” (Microsoft, February 2019) and are mainly located in rural areas of the US. That number includes the 34 million that have no access to the internet.
Rift Valley, through its subsidiary Ruralink Wireless, is involved in Microsoft’s Airband initiative, which funds the capital cost of wireless broadband networks that use TV white space (TVWS) technology.
Rift Valley has teamed up with Ark Mediacom to develop wireless broadband networks using TVWS throughout Ark Mediacom’s low-power TV station network. Ark Mediacom has over 280 low-power TV stations and licenses covering approximately 100 million residents in the rural US.
The common denominator in Rift Valley and Ark Mediacom is Vern Fotheringham, a recognized guru in wireless technology, who resides near Seattle, Washington. Fotheringham is the non-executive Chairman of Rift Valley Resources and is the CEO of Ark Mediacom. His last position was Chairman and CEO of Kymeta Corp. a Seattle-based, high-tech, satellite antennae company majority-owned by Bill Gates.
Rift has partnered with Ark Mediacom to build the initial TVWS wireless broadband network in Ardmore, Oklahoma, with the goal of rolling out networks across the rural US after that.
Rift Valley President and Director Griffin Jones notably has over 30 years of experience in the financing and administration of public companies. He has successfully financed and moved a large gold mine in Nevada into production. He is also the founder and director of several public companies.
Rift Valley’s Company Highlights
- 162 million Americans lack access to a reliable internet source, creating a large market in the US.
- Has developed two broadband solutions to serve different market segments.
- QwikCom has numerous applications for construction sites, security and surveillance and disaster relief, Wi-Fi for outdoor events, among others.
- Working on projects with Microsoft and ARK Mediacom.
- Ark Mediacom controls 283 television licenses throughout the US, servicing approximately 33 percent of the US population.
- Rift Valley Chairman is an innovator in TV white space technology.
Failing to Connect in the US
According to We Are Social, over three billion people around the world do not have access to the internet and 34 million Americans lack access to an internet source. The reason why people can’t access the internet in the developed world is due to the fact that many large telecom providers see little opportunity to make a return on their investment when it comes to setting up traditional wired telecom infrastructure in a remote or rural community.
The lack of internet in rural communities leaves them isolated from those living in urban centers and denies rural citizens important economic, cultural and social opportunities. Without the internet, many counties throughout the US can’t attract new firms, and their isolation discourages the enterprises they already have. A study conducted by university researchers in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas found that rural counties with more houses connected to broadband have higher incomes and lower unemployment rates when compared to counties with limited access.
To combat these issues, the US government offers internet infrastructure development incentives such as grants, cost-sharing programs and tax breaks. For example, the US Department of Commerce, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA), offers approximately $4 billion in grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service and promote statewide broadband planning and data collection activities. Additionally, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers over $700 million annually in grants to develop telecom infrastructure in rural areas across the country.
Through Rift Valley’s partners, who are eligible for grant funding, the company has access to the capital needed to develop and deploy its technology and solutions. The company believes that the need for wireless telecom infrastructure throughout rural areas in the US will lead to increases in grant funding to telecom companies.
Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative
The lack of internet access in rural communities has also attracted the attention of tech giant Microsoft. Microsoft has launched its Airband initiative to help eliminate the rural broadband gap in the US. The company has teamed up with internet service providers and their partners to get rural communities online using TV white spaces and unused television airwaves to broadcast an internet signal.
Microsoft believes that the best way to bring internet coverage to these rural areas is through TV white spaces. The technology could help reduce the costs of bringing broadband internet to rural communities as well as lower total capital and initial operating costs.
Microsoft is partnering with telecommunication companies, like Rift Valley and it’s subsidiary Ruralink to bring these services to rural areas. The company plans to provide the capital needed to put the infrastructure in place but retains a royalty or revenue share on any profits made by its partners. The money generated from royalties is then reinvested into other projects within the initiative. Microsoft intends to partner with equipment manufacturers, internet service providers, energy companies and local entrepreneurs to enable affordable broadband access in rural communities around the world.
Ruralink is working with Microsoft to bring connectivity to rural areas in the US. The company expects to pay back Microsoft’s investment within the next five years.
QwikCom Portable Wireless Broadband
QwikCom is a portable wireless broadband system that supplies voice, video and data communications to rural and remote areas. The units are self-sufficient and can be easily shipped via truck or air. QwikCom units can quickly connect to a satellite through its onboard dish and distribute Wi-Fi over a one-kilometer radius of the unit. The units come with additional equipment such as day and night-vision cameras, electrical generators or solar panels and battery back-up if required. The unit can also act as a cell phone charging station.
Due to its portable nature, the QwikCom units have direct applications in multiple environments such as disaster relief, internet connectivity in rural and remote areas and construction sites. The unit can also be used as a surveillance system for border control, intelligent transportation management, pipeline monitoring and secure plant, mine or warehouse monitoring and event Wi-Fi.
The Ruralink Fixed Wireless Broadband Network
The Ruralink wireless broadband network utilizes TV white space to provide internet to rural and remote locations across the US. The network can provide high-speed connectivity over 50 miles making it an excellent solution for remote, off-the-grid areas and villages. A TV white space network can cover an area about 100 times the diameter of a regular Wi-Fi router.
ARK Mediacom partnership
In March 2019, Rift Valley entered an agreement with ARK Mediacom, a television-based IP content delivery network operator in the US. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies are expected to collaborate on technical and market trials for a wireless internet service network that could provide broadband internet access utilizing TV white space technology.
The agreement also is expected to work on developing a complementary hybrid broadcast-broadband network for ARK Mediacom’s service territories. To this aim, Rift Valley and ARK Mediacom intend to conduct a two-phase pilot program in Ardmore, Oklahoma to create a highly-efficient and cost-effective solution that will provide broadband services to underserved communities in the US.
ARK Mediacom controls 283 television licenses throughout the US with substantial coverage in rural areas. Once operational, the network could provide internet connectivity with approximately 100 million people, representing nearly 33 percent of all US households.
Rift Valley’s Management Team
Vern Fotheringham — Non-Executive Chairman
Vern Fotheringham is an internationally recognized leader and successful entrepreneur in the wireless broadband communications industry. Most recently, he was Chairman and CEO of Kymeta Corp., the Bill Gates company that is developing next-generation satellite antenna solutions using proprietary electromagnetic metamaterials technology. Currently, he is CEO of Ark Mediacom Inc. which own 283 Low Power TV (LPTV) stations and TV licenses throughout the US, covering over 100 million people. He is also the Executive Chairman of V-Satcast, a new satellite-based IP content delivery network serving the rapidly expanding over-the-top internet video market.
He served as Founder, CEO and Chairman of Advanced Radio Telecom (ART), a publicly-traded, wireless Internet Service Provider and CLEC. ART held broadband radio spectrum licenses for 207 major markets in the US and five countries in Europe. At ART, he was responsible for raising $225 million in the company’s NASDAQ initial public offering and subsequent public debt financings. Previous positions have included President and CEO of ADAPTIX, a world leader in the development of next-generation broadband wireless system technology. At ADAPTIX, he raised $44 million to fund the company post-acquisition of the Broadstorm assets. Beforehand, he served as President and CEO of Broadstorm, the pioneering OFDMA technology development company.
Griffin Jones — President and Director
Griffin Jones has extensive experience in finance and administration of public companies over a 30-year career. He successfully financed and placed into production, a large gold mine in Nevada and has been a founder and director of several public companies. He is a graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Administrative Management and the Canadian Securities Course.
Craig Robson — Director
Craig Robson has been a director of several public companies as well as a management consultant. He was previously a director and Vice President of compliance at CM Oliver and Co., a Vancouver based brokerage house, prior to being a senior investigator with the BC Securities Commission.
Don Gordon — Director
Donald Gordon has been a director and founder of several public companies. He serves as an Executive Director of the Canadian Listed Company Association and a Member of the Canadian Advocacy Council for Canadian Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Societies. He served as a Board Member of the Vancouver Society of Financial Analysts. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst charter holder. He holds a BA and MBA degrees from the University of British Columbia.
Nadwynn Sing, B.A. — Director
Nadwynn Sing has an extensive background in corporate governance of publicly-traded companies and has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia.
Tom Kennedy — Director
Tom Kennedy is a graduate of the University of British Columbia. After an initial career at the Federal Department of Justice, he has primarily focused as a legal, financial and business consultant to publicly-traded companies. He is currently a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Canadian Bar Association, the British Columbia Bar Association and an Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Kennedy is an officer and/or director of several TSXV publicly-traded companies.
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