Microsoft's Airband Initiative expands to New York City, Los Angeles, and more major cities

Microsoft Airband Initiative
Microsoft Airband Initiative (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft launched its Airband Initiative in 2017.
  • The initiative's goal was to help rural communities have affordable broadband.
  • The initiative is now expanding to eight major cities.

Microsoft's Airband Initiative is getting an expansion. Initially designed to help rural communities have steady, affordable internet access, the initiative is expanding to eight major cities.

Microsoft credits this need for expansion to the remote transformation the world's undergone due to the pandemic. Now more than ever, the internet has become central to people's lives. Many communities didn't have to rely on steady internet connections before 2020. But since everything from schooling to work has gone online, those without affordable, reliable broadband access have faced substantial challenges in carrying out daily life.

Here's what Microsoft (opens in new tab) had to say about its update to its Airband Initiative.

In 2017, we launched the Microsoft Airband Initiative to expand broadband access in rural America. Today, we are expanding Airband to U.S. cities that face some of the largest broadband gaps among racial and ethnic minorities, specifically Black and African American communities. Our approach focuses on providing access to affordable broadband, devices and digital skilling tools and resources in eight cities, including aiding in the digital transformation of the institutions that support these communities. Our initial work will extend access to communities in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee and New York City.

The Airband Initiative extends well beyond the U.S., though. Microsoft has also brought it to India, where it partnered with Indian ISP AirJaldi to help provide internet access to rural communities. As the years go on, one can likely expect to see the Airband Initiative's reach grow more and more.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • This social justice bent is truly annoying. It's not that the inner cities are lacking for broadband access. Even affordable access is widely available in many of these citie. The reason many poor in the inner cities don't have broadband internet is because they either cannot afford it or choose not to pay for it. This won't change the former unless it's free and won't change the latter whatsoever. Many choose to rely on their cell service or free city wide wifi. Hell, most I know don't even own a computer because their smart phone does all they need. Meanwhile, people in rural America, especially in the rural Midwest, don't have any access, affordable or not. This initiative is a waste if resources.
  • Totally agree. The major cities have nothing to worry about when it comes to the infrastructure. It's there. Whether they choose to use it, that's on them. Even pre-covid most major ISPs had systems in place to assist with the cost. Internet only plans are usually very affordable. No one needs to have gig internet for everyday things. For the average household, 100-300Mbps is more than enough to do what needs to be done. Rural access is the reason things like Starlink are being worked on and rural areas being given priority. Stop making it seem like the reason they don't use it is due to lack of access or racism. It's far from it. Especially since most large cities also have free wifi available everywhere.
  • Wow, I'd love to see the data you've amassed that lead you to be able to assert why people are making the decisions they do.
  • More access, and affordable access at that, can only be a good thing, whether you are talking about urban or rural.