Microsoft has announced an initiative to offer broadband internet to the rural parts of the United States by using the so called ‘white space’ technology where data is sent over television’s unused broadcast frequencies. The initiative is expected to cost $10 billion and the funds will be obtained from both government and corporate sources.

23 million

Currently, it is estimated that approximately 23 million Americans residing in the rural areas lack access to high-speed internet. In an online posting the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, said that plans are underway to have some projects operational in the next one year.

“We and our partners will have at least 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months,” Smith wrote.

The twelve states expected to have operational projects in the coming one year are Wisconsin, Arizona, Washington, Georgia, Maine, New York, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota, Virginia and Kansas. In the sparsely populated areas of the United States, wireless internet services are the best fit since there have been no upgrades to the fiber or cable internet networks.

Royalty-free patents

Microsoft intends to put up the upfront capital necessary for the expansion of broadband internet coverage and then share revenues with operators in order to recoup its investment. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant will then use these proceeds to further invest in other projects in order to expand broadband coverage even more. Besides capital the largest software company in the world will also offer access to sample source code and patents on technology that Microsoft has developed without required royalty payments.

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, about 34 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet with download speeds of at the minimum 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at the minimum 3 Mbps. The study conducted by the FCC further revealed that about 70% of these people were residing in rural America.

White space technology

Microsoft also collaborated on another study with the Boston Consulting Group where it was discovered that in communities where the population density is under 200 people but with at least two people for every square mile white space technology was the best solution. The same study also found that in places where the population density is more than 200 people for every square mile, limited fiber and fixed wireless were the best solutions. In areas where the population density per square mile is fewer than 2 people, satellite internet is the best solution.

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