Millions of citizens living in rural communities across the U.S. are deprived of high-speed internet access. In order to overcome this issue, Microsoft proposed a $10 billion program last year. Dubbed the Rural Airband Initiative, this program aims to bring broadband internet to two million such people in the country by July, 2022.
As part of this initiative, the tech giant formed a partnership with RADWIN a couple of months ago, in order to develop TV white space solutions. Then, last month, the firm teamed up with Agile Networks to bring broadband to 110,000 people living in rural Ohio, U.S.
Microsoft's journey towards high-speed internet access for unserved people in the country seems to be continuing at a fine pace, with the company now announcing a new agreement with internet service provider Network Business Systems as part of its Airband Initiative. The partnership will be delivering broadband to approximately 126,700 unserved people living in rural communities in U.S. states including Illiniois, Iowa and South Dakota.
Shelley McKinley, Head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, commented on the new agreement, noting:
"Everyone deserves to have access to broadband — no matter where they live — because access to broadband is access to digital opportunity. Our partnership with Network Business Systems will help ensure that hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota can participate in the 21st century economy."
Network Business Systems will be building and deploying wireless internet access networks across rural areas in the aforementioned states using several different technologies - most significantly TV white spaces. Microsoft has been trying to utilize white spaces, even outside of the U.S., for several years now. The first TV white space network was launched by the firm in 2015, following successful initiation of pilot projects that employed use of the same technology. A partnership with the Indian government was also announced later that year, focusing on similar projects.
Microsoft has noted the significance of broadband internet access in today's digital economy. With that said, the Redmond-based giant will be hoping that this partnership will help revitalize the technological, educational, and healthcare sector in rural communities across the three states.