Microsoft announces rural broadband initiative

Microsoft announces rural broadband initiative

Microsoft announces rural broadband initiative

Microsoft wants to make sure even the hard-to-reach places in the U.S. have access to speedy internet service. Specifically, it will be important for the FCC to ensure that three channels below 700 MHz are available for wireless use on an unlicensed basis in every market in the country, with additional TV white spaces available in smaller markets and rural areas.

The company plans to partner with telecommunications companies that serve rural counties in 12 states. Microsoft estimates that over 23 million Americans in the countryside lack high-speed internet access.

Ramanathan said this technology could prove cheaper than existing methods, such as laying down fiber-optic cables, but telecom companies will still need subsidies to make it economical.

A Microsoft executive told Bloomberg that the results of the 2016 election helped highlight how rural areas in the US have lagged in Internet connectivity even as large tech companies have focused on areas outside the U.S.to expand networks. White space employs the unused slivers of spectrum that fall between what TV broadcaster use to deliver their channels over the air.

The plans come with hurdles, including the cost of technology-compatible devices, and opposition from the National Association of Broadcasters. Getting more people connected in rural areas has been a priority President Donald Trump's administration. "Policymakers should not be misled by slick Microsoft promises that threaten millions of viewers with loss of lifeline broadcast TV programming".

Microsoft will announce the new project in a speech at Washington D.C., according to the Seattle Times, which broke the news. It will work with local internet service providers like Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities in Virginia and Axiom Technologies in ME by investing in some of the capital costs and then sharing in revenue. In the long term, Microsoft's goal is to help "eliminate the rural broadband gap within the next five years by July 4, 2022", he said.

White-spaces technology has emerged as a potential solution to that problem.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai visited Deriso's southern Virginia office on Tuesday to talk about the project, around the same time Smith was unveiling Microsoft's plan to industry and political leaders at a Washington hotel near the White House.

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