Over two years ago, Microsoft launched the Airband Initiative to bring broadband internet to two million people living in rural parts of the United States by 2022. Many steps have been taken by the tech giant since then to pursue this goal - which actually ended up being increased to the serving of three million people earlier this year.
Microsoft believes that despite the strides that have been made to close the broadband gap in the country, it is still an "urgent national crisis" that must be dealt with as quickly as possible. The tech giant also noted that solving the problem would require a higher level of engagement from the public sector than it is currently being given.
Microsoft has cited FCC's 2018 report on broadband usage to highlight the correlation between lack of high-speed internet access and inequality of opportunities. From the 10 counties with highest unemployment rates, only 20.2% areas are stated to have broadband access. In comparison, there's a figure of 47.6% broadband usage for the 10 counties on the lowest unemployment end. The Redmond firm has noted that more needs to be done to bring broadband coverage proposals into action - particularly given the aforementioned statistics.
In another step taken toward addressing this issue, Microsoft is hosting a booth at the Iowa State Fair this week. Through this, it is aiming to find out how people in the Midwestern U.S. state can be provided affordable broadband. The company is hoping to discuss the issue with political leaders present at the event as well.
This year, Microsoft has made some significant progress towards its goals as part of the Airband Initiative. It teamed up with Native Network in January, and signed a digital alliance with the U.S. state of Vermont in May. Last month, the firm partnered with Watch Communications to bring high-speed internet services to four million people.