In what is being called a first of a kind partnership between Microsoft and a regional broadband provider, the company is teaming up with Michigan’s Packerland Broadband to help bring internet to 82,000 people living in rural Michigan. This is the latest win for Microsoft’s Rural Broadband initiatives and is also a major part of the company’s TechSpark program (via VentureBeat.)
Under the partnership, 82,000 people, primarily in northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan, will be set to receive internet access over the next four years. Packerland Broadband will be using Microsoft’s TV White Space (the unused portions of the broadcast spectrum) tech to roll out connections.
Though the pricing details were not available, small businesses, students, and others can also expect to receive Windows 10 devices, Office 365, and other Microsoft services through Packerland Broadband. This is part of the TechSpark program, which aims to foster economic opportunities in communities across the US.
Microsoft’s Brad Smith announced the news during the National Governors Association’s winter meeting in Washington, D.C. “Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century… Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is focused on bringing this necessity of life to 2 million people in rural counties by 2022,” said Smith.Further reading: Microsoft, TV white space