VA Teams with Microsoft on Airband Initiative

Microsoft has a new government ally in its Airband Initiative effort to use TV white spaces for unlicensed broadband, an effort it says will help close the rural digital divide.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will team up with Microsoft to get broadband access to more veterans.

Microsoft will contribute money, training amd technological expertise to expand access to vets to help them "unlock new economic opportunities" and enhance quality of life, the reasons rural broadband more broadly is billed by the FCC and the Trump Administration as a national priority, though the President Thursday (May 23) signaled he was willing to hold up rural broadband investment until Congress stops investigating him for possible obstruction of justice.

Related: Microsoft Ups Airband Deployment Target

"Through the partnership, we’ll help VA identify communities with Veterans in need and work with our internet service provider (ISP) partners across the nation to bring broadband services to those regions," said Shelley McKinley, (opens in new tab) head of technology and corporate resposibility for Microsoft. "Following our Airband Initiative model, we’ll also provide the Veterans in these newly connected communities with digital skills training so they can take advantage of the tools and services connectivity enables, including critical telehealth services provided by VA."

Microsoft is working out some potential interference issues with, or at least concerns of, broadcasters, after which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled this week the FCC is eager to free up that white spaces spectrum for wireless broadband.

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.