Microsoft plans to bring broadband Internet to 2M rural Americans — GeekWire

Sherry Scott a schoolteacher in southern Virginia tests a new broadcast internet system as part of a pilot program by Microsoft and Mid Atlantic Broadband Communities to extend access to more rural students

In many rural parts of the United States, Internet access is inferior, as in many sites people rely on poor cable connections, radio-powered modems, or satellites to have access to the web.

And it's looking to unlicensed TV white space (TVWS) spectrum to facilitate the offering.

Although the buffer zones, known as white spaces, are now unused, Wharton said they are important for preventing adjacent channels from interfering with each other.

Almost 34 million people in the US lack access to advanced telecommunications capabilities, meaning broadband download speeds of 25 Mbps, according to the Federal Communication Commission's 2016 Broadband Progress Report.

However, Microsoft will not become an internet service provider.

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The software titan plans to promote a wireless access technology called "white space", which figures to be the centerpiece of a speech given by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith later today, according to The Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Regarding Microsoft opinion, this proposition is aimed at conveying fast wireless internet, which is the correct way to enhance connectivity in parts of the country that broadband providers have long avoided. Instead, Microsoft will supply the upfront capital required to expand broadband coverage, and then recoup that cost by sharing in the revenue with local operating partners, it said. "We're confident that this approach is good for the country and even for our business". "After all, if 23 million additional customers can access the internet at broadband speeds, every tech company in America will benefit". White space employs the unused slivers of spectrum that fall between what TV broadcaster use to deliver their channels over the air.

The company will remain lobbying in Washington, D.C., to obtain the release of more white spaces.

The FCC should help in improved data collection regarding rural broadband coverage by accelerating its work to collect and report publicly on the state of broadband coverage in rural counties, thereby aiding policy makers and the private sector in making targeted investments.

A spokesman for Microsoft told Recode that the initial 12 states in the initiative would be Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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