82,000 people in rural Michigan and Wisconsin will get broadband through a partnership with Packerland Broadband.
Bringing high-speed Internet to rural locations is difficult mainly due to the huge costs involved in building the infrastructure required to provide it. However, Microsoft has seen an opportunity and is partnering up to provide rural communities with broadband through the use of TV white spaces.
White spaces are the radio frequencies allocated to broadcasting services, but have become unlicensed parts of the spectrum thanks to a move to digital television. Instead, that spectrum can be used to provide a wireless broadband connection. Microsoft’s latest agreement sees it partner with Packerland Broadband to deliver broadband to 82,000 people in Wisconsin and Michigan.
In the announcement, Microsoft states that 43 percent of people living in rural Wisconsin and 34 percent of people living in rural Michigan don’t have access to broadband. Through this agreement, a mix of TV white spaces and Wi-Fi hardware will be used to extend Packerland’s network. The project will take approximately four years to complete, with coverage extending to 33,750 people by the end of 2019 and then the full 82,000 people by 2022.
This project is part of Microsoft’s Rural Broadband Initiative, which aims to bring broadband to 2 million people in rural areas across America. It is estimated that 34 million people lack access to broadband (minimum 25Mbps downloads and 4Mbps uploads) in the US and 23.4 million of those are located in rural areas.
As DSL Reports points out, we don’t know how fast these connections will end up being or how much it will cost each household to subscribe. Microsoft currently has 12 white spaces projects spread across the US including Washington, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, New York, Maine, and now Wisconsin and Michigan.