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Microsoft to invest $10bn for fast internet in USA heartlands

Microsoft to invest $10bn for fast internet in USA heartlands

Promoting the white-spaces technology could reap rewards for tech companies: The remaining 24.3 million people in rural areas without internet are potential customers of cloud applications, search and other digital services.

"At Microsoft, we're prepared to invest our own resources to help serve as a catalyst for broader market adoption of this new model", says Brad Smith, Microsoft's chief legal officer. He explained that Microsoft will invest in the upfront capital needed to expand the broadband coverage and that they'll seek a revenue share from operators to recoup their investment. Currently, devices capable of using white space connections are rare and expensive.

Microsoft wants to make sure even the hard-to-reach places in the USA have access to speedy internet service.

Microsoft's initiative, unveiled Tuesday, comes as policy makers struggle to extend high-speed internet services to rural areas, which cable and phone companies have often shunned as cost prohibitive.

Microsoft Corp. will attempt a project to bring broadband to 2 million people in hard-to-reach rural areas, it said.

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"We're confident that this approach is good for the country and even for our business", said Smith.

Microsoft has launched a pilot project in a rural area of Virginia and produced the video below to explain the results. There, the tech company partnered with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. This week, the National Association of Broadcasters filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission arguing against Microsoft's request for one nationwide channel to be set aside for white-spaces use. And though there's still some work to be done with things like ensuring that specific white space bands are available in all markets, the hope is that Microsoft's initial plan will spur other companies and the public sector to get involved as well.

"We're looking at this to be price competitive for people in urban areas", Mr. Smith said. Microsoft has repeatedly called for government funding on a "matching basis" with private sector money, according to Recode.

IL is not on that list, which includes Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, but if the program is successful it is expected to expand.

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