(Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 4, 2018) – More than 19 million people living in rural America do not have access to broadband, a service as necessary as electricity in today’s digital economy. Today, at an event in Washington D.C., Microsoft President Brad Smith reiterated his call for a national strategy to close the rural broadband gap and highlighted this is a problem that the country can solve. Smith also announced a significantly increased commitment by Microsoft to help tackle the problem. The Microsoft Airband Initiative will now aim to reach three million Americans in rural communities by July 4, 2022 and add additional states, increasing the total to 25 states by this time next year. The new states include California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
At the event, Smith highlighted new data analysis that shows the highest unemployment rates are frequently located in the counties with the lowest availability of broadband. The event featured a precision farming demo, a discussion with representatives from internet service provider partners Packerland Broadband and Declaration Networks Group who are working to with Microsoft, and a discussion with representatives from the National 4-H Council and National FFA who are also partners in the Airband program.
The Microsoft Airband Initiative launched in July 2017 with the goal of working with partners to make broadband available to two million Americans in rural communities who lack access today and helping catalyze an ecosystem to connect millions more. More information is available at Microsoft on the Issues.