To help millions of Americans living in rural and remote areas gain access to the Internet, Microsoft has proposed a five-year Rural Airband Initiative program. Recently, the company announced the third year of work, and introduced the next few months of development arrangements. Late last year, the company partnered with a number of organizations, even calling the broadband divide “an emergency crisis facing the country”.
By 2022, Microsoft hopes to help 40 million people get an Internet connection. The Airband Initiative project has made good progress, but the real world is still more difficult than expected.
A recent FCC study found that about 21 million people in the U.S. do not have access to high-speed Internet, a far cry from Microsoft’s own figure of about 157 million.
Microsoft is understood to be providing broadband support to 25 states and has launched pilot projects in two other states. Its service has grown from 24,000 to 633,000 since 2018, and further increases are planned.
At the same time, Microsoft praised the FCC for passing positive changes to its technology regulations and promoting the release of the blank TV spectrum. The committee also announced that it would provide $20 billion in grants for a “rural digital opportunity” project similar to Microsoft’s.
In the process of connecting, Microsoft also wants to spread its efforts to other areas, including education, agriculture, health care, and so on.
The tech giant has previously worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and plans to continue moving forward with similar projects through collaboration with other teams.
Finally, Microsoft reiterated its concerns about the status of broadband access in the United States. The company points out that broadband access could lay the foundation for upgrading and development in rural areas of the United States, and technological advances are imminent.