is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

  • American Agriculturist
  • Beef Producer
  • Corn and Soybean Digest
  • Dakota Farmer
  • Delta Farm Press
  • Farm Futures
  • Farm Industry news
  • Indiana Prairie Farmer
  • Kansas Farmer
  • Michigan Farmer
  • Missouri Ruralist
  • Nebraska Farmer
  • Ohio Farmer
  • Prairie Farmer
  • Southeast Farm Press
  • Southwest Farm Press
  • The Farmer
  • Wallaces Farmer
  • Western Farm Press
  • Western Farmer Stockman
  • Wisconsin Agriculturist
Green Vector progress loading bar. Ket4up/ThinkstockPhotos

Microsoft boosts rural broadband plan

Rural parts of America have fallen behind cities in reliable, fast connectivity.

by Dina Bass 

Microsoft Corp., which last year announced a plan to bring broadband to 2 million people in the rural U.S., is boosting the program to reach another 1 million customers across more states.

The Microsoft Airband Initiative will now be in 25 states by this time next year, more than doubling the program’s original reach and adding states including California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The company, the world’s largest software maker, plans to reach the 3 million total customers by July 2022. 

After years of focusing efforts on developing markets around the world, Microsoft turned its attention closer to home after the 2016 presidential election showed how far rural parts of America had fallen behind cities in reliable, fast connectivity. Estimates by the Federal Communications Commission that 25 million American’s can’t get broadband internet access are too low, Microsoft said. And without it, communities can’t start or run a modern business, take an online class or digitally transform their farm, according to the Redmond, Washington-based company.

The latest data from the Pew Research Center puts the number of Americans that don’t use broadband at home at about 113 million people, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post. While those numbers measure different things, the disparity led Microsoft to do its own research and the company said that work “suggests that the Pew numbers are far closer to the mark.” Smith wrote. Meanwhile, federal funding is making little impact. 

“Over the past five years, the FCC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided more than $22 billion in subsidies and grants to telecommunications carriers to sustain, extend and improve broadband in rural America. Despite these efforts, the country’s adoption of broadband hasn’t budged much since 2013,” Smith said in his post.

Microsoft initially announced the program in July 2017. The initiative has met with some criticism from broadcasters opposed to Microsoft’s use of the so-called white-spaces spectrum -- the unused frequencies between TV channels, to provide the service. 

To contact the author of this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

TAGS: Farm Life
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.