Microsoft launching major rural broadband initiative

To Close Digital Divide, Microsoft to Harness Unused Television Channels

The company plans to enter into collaborations with local telecom companies on 12 projects in 12 states over the next year in order to use the technology to provide Americans with Internet connections.

"It's fair to say the election raised our level of consciousness, as it did for a great many people in the country", said Microsoft President Brad Smith ahead of the program's launch.

To support the white-spaces plan, Microsoft is appealing to federal and state regulators to guarantee the use of unused television channels and investments in promoting the technology in rural areas. He says the powerful bandwidth will allow wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees.

Microsoft has to work with regulators to obtain the rights of using white spaces, but also with device makers. "Microsoft's white space device development has been a well-documented, unmitigated failure".




That's a lot of people, but it's just a start to connect the estimated 23 million Americans without fast, reliable Internet access-that's an estimated 39% of the population of rural status. Microsoft will invest in the upfront capital projects needed to expand broadband coverage, seek a revenue share from operators to recoup their investment, and then use these revenue proceeds to invest in additional projects to expand coverage further.

Microsoft's announcement comes at a time when other technology companies are developing ways to deliver Internet connectivity to tens of millions of people living in rural areas in the USA and other underserved markets. "We're confident that this approach is good for the country and even for our business". "To the contrary, we can and should bring the benefits of broadband coverage to every corner of the nation". In Virginia, the partnership plans to provide free broadband connections in two communities where 50 percent of students have no access to high-speed internet. Its larger vision: to provide 2 million people in the USA with broadband by 2022.

A spokesman for Microsoft told Recode that the initial 12 states in the initiative would be Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Microsoft is also planning to work with groups like the National 4-H Council to boost digital literacy training in the rural areas of America.

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