Microsoft wants to use the TV airwaves to bring broadband to millions of rural Americans
Microsoft announced Tuesday an initiative to bring high-speed Internet to millions of rural Americans through unused television waves in a long-term bet for user growth.
The technology company of Redmond in Washington proposed to use the generally reserved spectrum for the stations of television transmit to high-speed Internet to places in need of the United States. To begin with, Microsoft is committed to a five-year effort to bring broadband connectivity to 2 million poor rural Americans.
Microsoft, whose products include the Windows operating system, productivity Office Suite 365 and Skype video service, hope for other companies and the government will support what he called Initiative in the rural air market. However, the plan has provoked opposition from broadcasters who are reluctant to share the waves.
“This is really to make sure everyone is online in rural communities,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s legal director, Reuters. “This includes consumers, which includes businesses, which includes farmers and agricultural enterprises and includes schools.”
Reaching the 23 million poor rural Americans would cost up to 12 billion, Microsoft said. Smith said the company would spend whatever it takes to reach 2 million people who are white. It is planned to launch at least 12 projects in 12 states over the next 12 months and has partnerships with telecom companies, including CenturyLink in Washington, and hopefully more partners, Smith said.
“Our goal is to work with as many people as possible,” he said, adding that he hopes the Administration will consider funding Trump’s government for the project as part of a pending infrastructure bill in the fall.
“My feeling is that they focus on a full range of infrastructure needs, including 21st century infrastructure such as broadband,” Smith said. “We welcome dialogue.”
Expensive equipment is one of the challenges. Microsoft’s startup costs will go down, but this is not guaranteed. The opposition of broadcasters is also a concern.
“Lawmakers should not be fooled by the promises stain Microsoft,” said Dennis Wharton, vice president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters, in a statement.
Forrester analyst James McQuivey called the plan a low-risk, high-effort reward for Microsoft, which may have to spend money on a lobbying fight with broadcasters, but could win millions of new users.
“It would be very useful for Microsoft if the company uses this commitment to create a brand relationship with the customer, move them to Bing as a search engine, encourage them to use Office 365, Outlook and Skype”