Microsoft to tap TV white spaces in broadband push for rural Maine, New York

Microsoft Logo at Ignite
Microsoft Logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft's Airband Initiative, an effort to use TV white spaces to deliver broadband to underserved communities, is taking another step forward with an expansion to Maine and New York. The tech giant announced today that it is partnering with RTO Wireless in an effort to bring broadband access to more than 290,000 people living in rural areas of both states (via OnMSFT).

The move is part of a larger effort on Microsoft's part to bring broadband access to two million rural Americans in unserved areas by 2022. Initially, Microsoft is planning to roll service out across 20 counties in New York and 16 counties in Maine.

Speaking on the partnership, Shelley McKinley, Microsoft's head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility, said:

Without reliable internet access, many people living in rural America are unable to take advantage of the same opportunities as their urban neighbors. We are excited to partner with RTO Wireless to bring broadband to students, farmers, educators and business owners across the Southern Tier and North Country of New York and Western Maine so that they have an equal opportunity to learn, grow, contribute and prosper in the 21st century economy.

With a goal of eliminating the "rural broadband gap", Microsoft has also sought to use its Airband Initiative to spur investment from other companies and the public sector alike. Earlier this month, that led the company to team up with RADWIN, a firm with experience in delivering wireless broadband access. Both companies are now focused on utilizing TV white spaces over UHF bands to bring internet connectivity to rural communities.

TV white spaces aren't the only novel solutions Microsoft has tapped for delivering internet connectivity. In June, the company expanded a pilot project meant to bring quickly deployable internet solutions to coastal cities via underwater data centers.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl