Microsoft wants to close the rural broadband gap by 2022

From Engadget - July 11, 2017

Microsoft is calling for an elimination of the rural broadband gap by 2022 and has laid out a few strategies meant to achieve that goal. Over the next five years, Microsoft will invest with telecommunications companies to bring broadband access to two million rural Americans and it will use its recouped investments to invest in additional coverage-expanding projects. It will also invest in training to make sure people in areas with new access have the skills to utilize the technology. And in order to get other groups to do their part to spread broadband access, Microsoft will provide free access to dozens of patents and source code that will help with the development of technology that can expand broadband access and it will also license its own technology. As of now, Microsoft says its Rural Airband Initiative already has plans for 12 projects in 12 states that should get going within a year.

The company also calls on the public sector to play its part, which includes airwave space being made available by the FCC and federal and state funds directed specifically towards closing the broadband gap. Microsoft also says that better data collection on the state of rural broadband coverage would help companies and governments target shortcomings.

To keep costs down, Microsoft has proposed a mixed technologies approach to spreading broadband that includes wireless, fiber and satellite delivery systems. It says with this plan and relying on satellite coverage for low density populations, costs can be up to 80 percent less than using fiber cables alone and 50 percent less than wireless approaches like 4G.


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