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By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft partners with Nextlink Internet in the latest Airband Initiative milestone
by Hamza Jawad
In 2017, Microsoft unveiled the Airband Initiative to bring broadband internet to two million people living in unserved rural areas in the U.S., a goal which was later increased to three million. This year, as part of the initiative, the tech giant has partnered up with the U.S. state of Vermont, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and more recently, with Watch Communications. Last month, Microsoft also termed the rural broadband gap an "urgent national crisis".
Now, the Redmond firm is teaming up with Nextlink Internet to further advance this initiative. Both companies will be aiming to serve high-speed internet access to more than nine million people in the Central U.S., with around one million of them living in rural areas.
Shelley McKinley, Vice President of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, commented on this partnership in the following way:
States in the U.S. that will benefit from this collaboration include Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Over 29 million people in these places are noted to be living without access to internet at broadband speeds. A number of broadband connectivity technologies will be deployed to significantly decrease the aforementioned figure. While work regarding this is already underway in Texas and Oklahoma, deployment efforts in the other four states will also commence immediately, with rollouts planned through 2024.
Nextlink's CEO, Bill Baker, detailed the advantages offered by this partnership, noting:
These states also contribute around $120 billion in annual agricultural value for the U.S., or 29% of the agricultural output of the country. Microsoft believes broadband internet will provide farmers in these areas with better access to information regarding their crops, and thus, increase the economic output. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated that connected tech in widespread use could increase the annual gross benefit in the U.S. by $47 billion.
Microsoft and Nextlink will be ensuring that once increased connectivity is provided, people living in these states are also given the necessary digital skills training to benefit them further.
An Oklahoma man is facing up to a year in jail after being caught by police doing 208 mph on a public road at night.
The incident took place in November on the Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma City, when Hector Fraire was spotted doing 85 mph in a 70 mph zone in his modified blue 2011 Ford Mustang, then reportedly sped up to evade the police car that tried to pull him over.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says he was then clocked at 176 mph and 208 mph and turned off his headlights and brake lights at one point, before finally pulling over for a patrol car that intercepted him at a red light.
Officials told The Oklahoman that Fraire "became really apologetic and stated he ran because he was scared," and described him as a member of a “local racing club.”
Fraire has now been charged in court with reckless driving and attempting to elude a police officer. If convicted, he faces up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine on the reckless driving count, and a year behind bars and a $2,000 fine for running from the police.