Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck The Internet

Microsoft Pledges To Bring Better Broadband To Two Million Rural Americans in the Next Five Years (recode.net) 99

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new campaign to try to "eliminate" the gap in high-speed internet access in the country's hardest-to-reach areas -- an effort called the Rural Airband Initiative, which will set an ambitious target of bringing better broadband to two million Americans within the next five years. From a report: The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant plans to start its efforts in 12 states, offering seed money -- Microsoft wouldn't specify the amount -- to local telecom providers that are trying to improve internet access through means like "white spaces," which are the invisible, wireless radio airwaves that aren't already owned by broadcasters. From Microsoft point of view, this approach -- aimed at delivering speedy wireless internet -- is the best way to improve connectivity in parts of the country that broadband providers long have ignored, given the prohibitive costs of building and sustaining networks there. By Microsoft's count, more than 23 million Americans in rural areas currently lack high-speed internet access, despite billions of dollars in federal investment. But the company emphasized that it is not looking to become a telecom provider -- it's only providing capital to local firms -- and does not seek to profit from the endeavor. Through revenue-sharing agreements, Microsoft instead plans to invest any money it raises in additional projects in other states where internet access is lacking.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Pledges To Bring Better Broadband To Two Million Rural Americans in the Next Five Years

Comments Filter:
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @09:06AM (#54785651) Journal
    Google should approach MS, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix and suggest that they invest into Google Fiber. At that point, rename it to American FIber and then push this all around America. Seriously, if all of these companies simply invested into this and focused on any of the places in which telcos were screwing over others (ok, all of America), then it would solve a LOT.
    • Comcast, AT&T etc are far too embedded to let this happen. Aren't there places where competition is illegal (or just impossible due to the payoffs made to local government officials)?

      I see the move by MS a good idea but they really need to join forces with Google, Apple etc. That way they will have the legal muscle to get in on the final mile. That's the bit that costs the most. Google has experience in this area.

      But will they take this opportunity to give the incumbents a huge kicking? My guess is that

      • by Average ( 648 )

        There's nowhere that overbuilding competition in entirely illegal (Federal Telecom. Act of 1996), but there are lots of places where the local kickbacks pay to keep it virtually so. Rules that forbid (much cheaper) aerial drops, for instance, even though the incumbents are grandfathered with the right to aerial drops. Rules that say a new provider must provide 100% citywide coverage in three months of getting a franchise (when the incumbent doesn't really have 100% coverage), etc.

        AT&T in particular (C

    • Google should approach MS, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix and suggest that they invest into Google Fiber.

      A wireless solution would be easier to implement if one existed. Right now, the only option on my mountain property is very weak cell service or satellite internet. Both costly and very limited in bandwidth. Fiber would cost a lot to run.

      • A wireless solution would be easier to implement if one existed. Right now, the only option on my mountain property is very weak cell service or satellite internet. Both costly and very limited in bandwidth. Fiber would cost a lot to run.

        I'm in a rural part of the country. I have a 900mhz antenna that points to an access point (2 miles away) across the valley (through 150' Doug fir trees) and the access point relays to another tower which connects eventually to the ISP. (00Mhz bandwidth is limited - I get 4Mb on a good day. But it beats the hell out of dialup.

        • I'm in a rural part of the country. I have a 900mhz antenna that points to an access point (2 miles away) across the valley (through 150' Doug fir trees) and the access point relays to another tower which connects eventually to the ISP. (00Mhz bandwidth is limited - I get 4Mb on a good day. But it beats the hell out of dialup.

          Curious.. how is the access point managed? A friend who lets you connect, an ISP account on a utility pole?

          • Curious.. how is the access point managed? A friend who lets you connect, an ISP account on a utility pole?

            The ISP remotely manages the access point. It's mounted on a tower they placed on someone's property. They may have some deal with the property owner.

    • 1. Installing fiber to these rural areas would be stupidly expensive.

      2. There's no need to rely on those companies to prevent telecos from screwing us over - we already have that power. Telecos and cable companies don't have a natural monopoly. They have a government-granted monopoly. Your local municipal government entered into a contract with a teleco/cable company which gave them a monopoly. To get rid of it, all you need to do is convince your local government to change the deal and allow competi
      • Telecos and cable companies don't have a natural monopoly. They have a government-granted monopoly.

        Telcos do. Cable companies do not. But you don't have to be a telco to be an ISP, and the ISP part of the telco operations have never been a monopoly.

        Your local municipal government entered into a contract with a teleco/cable company which gave them a monopoly.

        The term is "franchise", and while telco franchises are exclusive, cable franchises (for cable TV systems) are not. Federal law prohibits that.

        If only there were a way for citizens to influence what their government does...

        No, if only there was a company that wanted to be an ISP and accepted all the same conditions that the existing franchisees had to meet to get their franchise, instead of trying to cherry pick the limited customer base.

  • In Seattle we only get dialup because of Directors rules.
  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @09:17AM (#54785755)

    I wish someone would bring better internet to mid-sized cities in the US.

    We're still stuck with low quality monopoly cable internet paying 3 or 4 times what you guys in big cities with Google Fiber get after competition drives prices down.

    Yeah... I'm sure very-rural America would love to have cable speed connections but a big bang for the buck could be had by removing cable monopolies on broadband internet in the mid sized cities.

    • by enjar ( 249223 )
      Google Fiber is very limited and is currently on hold for any future expansion. Google Fiber operates in six cities now -- Kansas City, Austin, Provo, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham, which includes some big cities but also some cities which can broadly be considered "mid-sized". I'm totally with you on the removal of cable monopolies, though. I live in a big metro area and luckily I have a municipal ISP that's really quite good, but if they were awful I'd have zero choices to take my
    • We're still stuck with low quality monopoly cable internet paying 3 or 4 times what you guys in big cities with Google Fiber get after competition drives prices down.

      I'm not sure what counts as mid-sized cities in your book, but a lot of fiber cities seem like they'd count:
      Stanford University
      Kansas City
      Austin
      Provo
      Salt Lake City
      Charlotte
      Atlanta
      Research Triangle (Raleigh–Durham)
      Nashville, Tennessee
      San Antonio, Texas
      Huntsville, Alabama
      Louisville, Kentucky

      The biggest cities aren't on there. I'm not familiar with verizon's fiber plan in new york, but from what I can tell it seems to be a typical scam. "Pay us tax dollars for promises we're not actually

      • OK, they have some midsized cities but I do consider cities like "Austin, SLC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham and maybe San Antonio to be big".

        If you have a couple million or more people in your metro area it's hard to call the area mid sized.

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      but a big bang for the buck could be had by removing cable monopolies on broadband internet in the mid sized cities.

      You do understand that this situation was created by state and local politicians/regulators, not the federal government. If everyone, in say, Ohio, wants to eliminate "cable monopolies on broadband internet" they need simply petition their local politicians.

      Of course, you allowed the monopolies to be created to encourage comprehensive build-outs by removing competition, so removing the monopolies will leave unprofitable regions of the state under or un-served while competition abounds in the more densely po

      • If everyone, in say, Ohio, wants to eliminate "cable monopolies on broadband internet" they need simply petition their local politicians.

        "Cable monopolies" other than defacto are infacto illegal. If you want to eliminate a defacto monopoly on broadband internet in any city, create another company that offers broadband internet.

        so removing the monopolies will leave unprofitable regions of the state under or un-served

        The monopolies were removed more than 20 years ago, and there are still under-served areas.

        The answer is wireless broadband, which is typically exempt from existing monopoly agreements

        You cannot be exempt from what does not exist. But wireless proves the point -- there are no ISP monopolies. The government has never granted a single one.

    • by Yalius ( 1024919 )
      Meh, I live in a town of ~6000 and I have gigabit fiber to my home. Co-ops are a wonderful thing.
    • That's the snag. Rural residents are an important political and economic demographic, so it gets paid attention to. These aren't necessarily poor people. What's missing from broadband are the in-betweens. poorer sections of cities, small towns, regions dominated by minorities, etc. It's all about extracting money from consumers rather than connecting the citizens.

  • Now even quicker reshares of fake news from your racist uncles

    Thanks, Microsoft

  • While it's nice to Microsoft embrace the white spaces of Python, I'm not sure how that's supposed to help with rural Internet access.
  • through means like "white spaces," which are the invisible, wireless radio airwaves that aren't already owned by broadcasters.

    "invisible" - The only radio airwaves that are visible are referred to as "light waves".

    "wireless radio airwaves" - Redundant? Is there such a thing as "wired radio airwaves"?

    "aren't already owned by broadcasters" - That is the vast, vast majority of the radio spectrum, "broadcasters" control just a small fraction of the radio spectrum.

    This plan is to allocate and dedicate one unused UHF Broadcast TV channel in each market for high-speed data transmission. [broadcastingcable.com] So this proposed service, which broadcasters objec

  • by lactose99 ( 71132 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @11:44AM (#54787085)

    This is the phone company's job, not Microsoft's. WTF am I paying a Universal Service Fund then?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Haw-haw, you got scammed.

  • Through both direct government subsidy and extra fees, the phone companies have been collecting money for years that was supposed to be going to exactly this purpose.
  • The BIGGEST problem with having "broadband for everyone" is how spread out America is. ALL of Europe, including England, would fit inside the land area of the USA, with room to spare. It's why it cracks me up, when I see misleading statements about how poor the USA is, in broadband speed. Heck, you can take a ferry from England, to Holland, rent a car, and drive across Europe in about a day. If two cars leave the Texas/Oklahoma border at the same time, one traveling north, the other south, the one traveli
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @01:23PM (#54788027) Journal

    The fact is, there's no substitute for good, wired broadband connections. All of these attempts to provide service to unserved areas with wireless technologies are second-rate solutions that still leave rural customers at a disadvantage.

    Pretty much anywhere in the U.S., I can set up a satellite broadband connection and have "high speed Internet" -- only it's subject to a lot of terms and conditions. High latency is a big show-stopper with it for many things, like online gaming or VoIP telephony. And then you have the high cost and bandwidth caps that come with it.

    In many rural areas I've been in, you have at least one area ISP offering microwave type broadband, where you put one of their receiver antennas on your roof and get service that way. Again, it's better than only DSL as an option, but it's not great. It's costly and slower than speeds people are used to getting with cable modems.

    In other places, you can hobble along with an LTE cellular hotspot and whatever limitations come with the cellular subscription you've got with it.

    The point is -- none of this stuff is really very good. They're all wireless solutions that inherently have more issues than a piece of cable stuck in the ground or running along a pole to your property.

"Here at the Phone Company, we serve all kinds of people; from Presidents and Kings to the scum of the earth ..."

Working...