The chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft sat in a conference room of the company's Fargo campus and talked about technology that could help business in rural states. But Craig Mundie couldn't call, text or e-mail anyone with his own phone.
"I'm sitting here with my cell phone and it doesn't work here," Mundie said Monday, after speaking to a group of employees. "This has a Bluetooth radio, a WiFi radio and GSM radio, and I can't use it."
The so-called "white spaces proposition" could help rural states like North Dakota, where companies don't find it economical to build cell towers because of the small population.
"To me, the power of this white spaces is that if you want to build a community alternative, where you could at least have the equivalent of a cell phone walkie-talkie capability just to make local calls in Fargo, that would probably make a lot of people happy," Mundie said. "It at least creates an alternative."