The company will propose that corporate and government funds support the service, which aims to provide access to the 23.4 million unconnected Americans who live in areas where broadband isn't easily available.
Microsoft wants to extend broadband services to rural America by turning to a wireless technology that uses the buffer zones separating individual television channels in the airwaves. He says the powerful bandwidth will allow wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees. They have plans for 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months. Finally, it has to overcome a signficant cost hurdle - hardware for use with white space-based broadband is expensive, though Microsoft told the Times that it will be able to get pricing down for hardware it'll demonstrate at an event today to below $200. These unused white spaces, which operate in the 600 MHz frequency range, will be used to deliver the Internet to rural sites of the country.
Microsoft's announcement comes at a time when other technology companies are developing ways to deliver Internet connectivity to tens of millions of people living in rural areas in the US and other underserved markets.
However, Microsoft doesn't intent to become a communications provider.
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Smith noted that the company is not interested in entering the telecommunications business or even profit directly from the initiative. Microsoft will invest in the upfront capital projects needed to expand broadband coverage, seek a revenue share from operators to recoup their investment, and then use these revenue proceeds to invest in additional projects to expand coverage further.
Microsoft has launched a pilot project in a rural area of Virginia and produced the video below to explain the results. "To the contrary, we can and should bring the benefits of broadband coverage to every corner of the nation". Its larger vision: to provide 2 million people in the USA with broadband by 2022.
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.
The company's philanthropic arm will also put money toward tech training for people living in rural communities; Microsoft has already inked a partnership with the National 4-H Council to do so.