As soon as next month, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to allow commercial white-space Internet, which could help hook up the 54 percent of rural homes without broadband. These white-space channels use lower frequencies than Wi-Fi, so they can pass through physical obstacles easier and travel farther. Last October, Spectrum activated the first white-space network, in Claudville, Virginia, under an experimental FCC license. The town's hilly landscape and abundant trees made conventional wireless near-impossible, so the company set up an Internet-connected radio transmitter at the town's edge and gave the school, business district and a few homes modem-like radio receivers. "They've been trying to get connected to the outside world for the better part of this century," says Jeff Schmidt, Spectrum's director of engineering.