Rural Maine to Benefit from Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative Pilot Program

NEC member Microsoft recently announced a national initiative to close the rural broadband gap. As part of a partnership with Axiom Technologies, areas in rural Maine will participate in a pilot project for the program.

Microsoft aims to utilize unused television frequencies, known as white spaces, to end the digital divide by bringing internet services to remote areas.  The technology, nicknamed “super Wi-Fi,” is similar to traditional Wi-Fi services, but reaches much greater distances and is powered by low power television channels.  In the next five years, Microsoft intends to connect two million households in rural America, and Maine has been chosen as one of the pilot locations.  According to Maine Public, 20,000 households in rural Maine lack internet and with the help of a $72,000 grant from Microsoft, Axiom will be able to offer $9.99 TV white space service for the first year.

Microsoft explained the proposal in a white paper posted on their website.  “In urban America, we have thankfully become accustomed to ongoing capital investments to expand broadband capacity in areas that already have broadband coverage,” the white paper stated. “But the time has come to expand this coverage to the rural areas that lack it entirely. As a country, we should not settle for an outcome that leaves behind over 23 million people living in rural America. To the contrary, we can and should bring the benefits of broadband coverage to every corner of the nation.”

The New England Council congratulates Microsoft for its cutting edge initiative and is eager to see the positive effects of this expanded service in rural communities throughout Maine.  Read more in Mainebiz and The New York Times.

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