Microsoft Says Airband is on Track

Marking the halfway point in its Airband rural broadband initiative, Microsoft said it is now in 25 states and one territory and is on track to meet its goal of three million more rural Americans with broadband access.

Airband is Microsoft's promotion of unlicensed wireless in the TV white spaces to extend broadband access.

Related: Microsoft Brands Rural Divide National Crisis

In a blog post from Shelley McKinley, VP of Microsoft Technology and Corporate Responsibility Group, talked about a team of Amish-owned horses dragging a load up a ridge in rural New York state, pointing out that the only thing that distinguished the scene from a Norman Rockwell painting was that it was a load of telecom equipment.

She gave the FCC credit for its effort to improve broadband data and mapping, saying that it remains problematic when the FCC data show access where none exists.

But saying the country can't wait on perfect data, McKinley reeled of some numbers to indicate Microsoft's progress. That included reaching 633,000 previously unserved people.

She also said the price of TV white spaces devices continues to drop, including by 50% in the last year.

She also applauded the FCC's vote last week to increase tower heights and boost power levels--things Microsoft had proposed--to expand the use of TV white spaces for unlicensed broadband, as well as its $20 billion-plus rural broadband subsidy fund. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.