Microsoft's Bid to Connect Rural America

Microsoft eyes buffer zone in TV airwaves for rural internet	
		Tue Jul 11th 2017 4:30pmBusiness

Entitled the Rural Airband Initiative, the plan is to connect more than 2m Americans in 12 states within the next five years.

Microsoft's decision to utilize unused TV white spaces was met with some opposition from broadcasters. He says the powerful bandwidth will allow wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees.

Microsoft today will unveil a proposal to help form a $10 billion public/private initiative to provide wireless broadband to rural users in the United States, according to multiple reports. It's also asking for regulatory support from the Federal Communications Commission. For one, few manufacturers are making devices compatible with white-spaces technology, and some devices that can be used with the technology cost more than $1,000 each.

Microsoft is looking to spend $10bn on a program to bring faster internet to Americans living in rural areas.

However, Microsoft will not become an internet service provider. 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.

"We're confident that this approach is good for the country and even for our business", said Smith. "To the contrary, we can and should bring the benefits of broadband coverage to every corner of the nation". Getting more people connected in rural areas has been a priority of President Donald Trump's administration. And though there's still some work to be done with things like ensuring that specific white space bands are available in all markets, the hope is that Microsoft's initial plan will spur other companies and the public sector to get involved as well. However, broadcaster companies aren't thrilled with the idea, as they are required to pay to obtain that spectrum from the USA government. Microsoft has repeatedly called for government funding on a "matching basis" with private sector money, according to Recode.

Microsoft said it will pilot its initiative in rural communities in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Lastly, Microsoft plans to invest in digital skills training for people in rural communities as well.

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