In July 2017, Microsoft proposed a $10 billion program to bring broadband internet to people living in rural communities in the United States. Dubbed the Airband Initiative, this program aims to extend high-speed internet access to two million such people by 2022. Just last month, the tech giant partnered with RADWIN to develop TV white space solutions as part of this initiative.
Today, Microsoft has announced that it is teaming up with telecommunications solutions provider Agile Networks in order to deliver broadband internet to rural communities in the U.S. state of Ohio. This marks another milestone in the company's efforts toward bridging the broadband gap for the 23 million U.S. citizens living in rural areas who are deprived of high-speed internet access.
The partnership will be making use of TV white spaces, along with a mixture of other technologies to deliver broadband connectivity to 110,000 people over the next four years. Critical functions in rural Ohio like hospitals, schools, medical clinics, and more require reliable internet access. As part of the new agreement with Microsoft, Agile Networks will look to install the necessary equipment in its telecommunication towers present across the state.
Shelley McKinley, Head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, mentioned the need for broadband access in today's world and also commented on how the new partnership would aid the spread of high-speed internet access:
"In today’s digital economy, broadband access has become a necessity across industries including healthcare, agriculture, business and education. Our partnership with Agile will help deliver broadband internet access to rural communities across Ohio so that they can take advantage of today’s and tomorrow’s opportunities and the latest cloud technologies."
Even before the Airband Initiative was launched last year, the tech giant had already been working on utilizing spare white spaces, introducing the first TV white space network in Africa in 2015. Microsoft has expressed hope that its latest project will help quicken the pace of economic development in Ohio.