Microsoft Aims to Boost Internet Connectivity in US Heartland

Microsoft Aims to Boost Internet Connectivity in US Heartland

By David Jones

Jul 11, 2017 4:06 PM PT

Microsoft on Monday unveiled an ambitious five-year plan that would use technology found in the television white space spectrum to develop affordable broadband Internet access for at least 2 million consumers, at total cost of between US$8 billion and $12 billion.

The aim is to bridge the technology gap between urban and rural American communities.

The spectrum is a currently unused portion in the 600 Mhz frequency range designated for UHF television bands, which allows wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees into rural areas.

Microsoft has deployed 20 such projects in 17 countries around the world, including Columbia, Kenya and Jamaica, providing access to a total of 185,000 people.

Microsoft President Brad Smith outlined the plan at a high-powered luncheon in Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by the Media Institute.

Thirty-four million Americans still lack access to broadband, he pointed out, and although 23 million still live in rural areas, progress for broadband penetration in the country has plateaued.

“This it not just about watching YouTube videos on tablets, as enjoyable as that may be,” Smith told attendees at the luncheon. It’s about education. It’s about healthcare. It’s about agriculture and growing a small business. It is a vital part of modern day life.”

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