For years, Microsoft Corp. focused its efforts to expand high-speed internet access on developing markets around the world. Now, the company is waking up to the problem in its own backyard, after the 2016 presidential election shed light on how far rural parts of America had fallen behind cities in reliable, fast connectivity — and the challenges that gap poses for residents according to Bloomberg Technology.
The software giant is calling for a national strategy that eliminates the rural broadband gap over the next five years. It’s starting by funding projects to bring access to less-populated areas in 12 U.S. states in the next year, and will share the new technology with other companies that want to do the same. By 2022, the Redmond, Washington-based company plans to provide fast internet to 2 million people, using so-called white-spaces spectrum — the unused frequencies between TV channels.
Ohio is not one of the initial 12 states in Microsoft’s new program, the Rural Airband Initiative. But, is a similar program a solution for Ohio? Under the Rural Airband Initiative, Microsoft covers the costs of capital investments to start the service through local telecommunications companies, many of which are small, sometimes family-owned, and can’t afford or risk the up-front investment. Once up and running, the carrier will give Microsoft a share of the revenue. Funding for the initial capital investment may not be the only hurdle. Given the importance of this white space to TV airwaves, the broadcast industry is becoming a vocal opponent.
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