Microsoft is expanding its Airband Initiative—an effort to bring broadband Internet access to unserved 3 million residents in the U.S.—to become a global initiative. The company now aims to support as many as 40 million individuals who have little or no access to high-speed broadband internet.
Microsoft will begin with “areas with significant underserved populations”—Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa—which also have government interest in improving connectivity for its residents. The company aims to cover the 40 million individuals between these two areas over the next three years.
Vacant broadcast frequencies known as TV White Spaces have proven to be quite effective for improving broadband coverage in rural America, so this technology will be a big part of Microsoft’s plan expand high-speed internet access in a very cost effective way. Microsoft also has other plans for achieving its goal, including:
- Partnering with local internet service providers (ISPs) to provide affordable, reliable internet services.
- Enabling rural digital transformation in newly connected areas, with a focus on supporting agriculture, education, rural entrepreneurship and telemedicine, as well as off-grid energy sources where necessary in order to improve rural productivity and livelihood.
- Building a larger ecosystem of support, with a focus on stimulating international financing, to scale connectivity projects beyond our own direct investments.
Microsoft has seen an interest in expanding internet services across the world for some time now. The company has also used TV White Spaces to improve connectivity in other parts of the world—including India, Kenya, and Ghana.
What do you think of Microsoft’s ambitions? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments area below.