Microsoft has today announced a new collaboration with Watch Communications to help its Airband Initiative expand. Through the partnership, the companies hope to bring broadband services to people in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
Through the tie up between Airband and Watch Communications, Microsoft will bring broadband to 4 million additional people. 815,000 of those live in rural locations and would not have fast internet otherwise.
Watch Communications will help the initiative by installing connectivity infrastructure to deliver TV white space internet connection.
“Public-private partnerships, collaboration and understanding local initiatives are key to enabling connectivity success. Providing rural broadband can be difficult, so working as a team to solve the digital divide requires partners. We are excited to partner with Microsoft on this initiative,” said Greg Jarman, chief operating officer, Watch Communications.
Over the years, Microsoft has pursued using TV White Space technology to bring low cost connection. The White Space signal sits on the 470MHz to 790MHz frequencies, a lower frequency than cellphone that sits unused in the television spectrum as it is a buffer for Wi-Fi connectivity.
TV White Space has been successfully used in several regions, not least recently in Puerto Rico to help the island recover from a hurricane.
New Watch Communications technology will bring connectivity to 50 counties in Indian, most counties in Ohio, and 22 in Illinois. In terms of the amount of people who will receive connectivity, Microsoft says around one million in Indiana, 2.5 million in Ohio, and 275,000 in Illinois.
“Every person deserves the same opportunity. But too often and in too many places, these opportunities are limited by where people live and their access to reliable and affordable broadband access,” said Shelley McKinley, general manager, Technology and Corporate Responsibility, Microsoft. “Microsoft is working across the country to close this gap. We’re partnering with Watch Communications to improve broadband access in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and build on the incredible work being done by state and local leaders on this issue on behalf of their citizens.”