Microsoft Plans to Connect 2 Million Rural Americans to Broadband

The big issue for the millions of Americans that live in rural areas when it comes to broadband is one of the lack of availability. In many rural areas there are no broadband providers other than satellite and that is far from ideal for most of the broadband uses that we take for granted in urban areas. There is also the issue of price and customer service, often for rural users prices are much higher than in urban areas and the companies offering the rural broadband are far less likely to provide decent customer service because they know there are no options and rural users will pay and keep using the service no matter what.

Microsoft wants to change that and connect millions ope people in rural States to broadband using white space. White spaces are the frequencies that are between TV channel broadcasts meant to keep interference between the channels to a minimum. Microsoft has announced that it wants to connect 2 million rural Americans to broadband over the next five years and is pushing the use of these white spaces for this with the FCC.

Microsoft plans to start in 12 states including New York, Texas, Washington, Virginia, Michigan, Maine, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Microsoft sent a letter in June to the FCC stating it would be pushing to make use of white spaces to connect people to broadband in rural areas across the nation reports ZDNet.

Microsoft wrote in its letter to the FCC, “Millions of Americans, including millions of students, largely in rural communities, lack broadband internet access, which is a critical component of enabling success in today’s digital society.”

“Microsoft’s research and community deployments have shown that white spaces technology is a very effective tool for expanding existing broadband networks into unserved or underserved communities. This is because white spaces technologies use a frequency band that permits network operators to extend wireless broadband signals significantly farther than other bands, while requiring less infrastructure and increasing affordability.”

Microsoft wants the FCC to enable white space with a minimum of three white space channels for each market. That plan allows the preservation of a vacant white space channel for UHF in each market.

Microsoft noted in its letter to the FCC that it’s plan should not disrupt TV broadcasts, “This regulatory certainty is critical to supporting the investment needed to take the important step of reducing the technology to a chip.”

“This will drive down prices to levels that can allow pervasive nationwide availability — but chipmakers will only take this step if there are three channels available.”