Microsoft to bring broadband internet to tribal lands in Montana and Washington with Airband Initiative

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Microsoft is adding to its partner’s list with a new collaboration between the company and Native Network, a telecommunications company focusing on providing solutions to the underserved rural Indian Country that resides in the United States.

As part of a joint announcement, Microsoft and Native Network revealed that the two companies are poised to deliver internet access to approximately 73,500 people in local trials communities.

“Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century and is critical for farmers, small-business owners, health-care practitioners, educators and students to thrive in today’s digital economy,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “The partnership with Native Network will help close the digital divide in rural Montana and Washington, bringing access to approximately 73,500 people within and around the tribal communities.”

Beyond its immediate goal of internet access to 73,500 people in rural native counties in the northwest, the Microsoft and Native Network partnership looks to extend its ultimate reach to over 2 million people in unserved portions of rural America by July 4, 2020.

To do so, Native Network is taking the utmost advantage of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative which takes investment in not only its goal of providing broadband to rural America but also digital skills training for newly connected areas.

Furthermore, according to Microsoft, proceeds from Airband connectivity projects gets funneled back into the program for even more expanded broadband to rural areas.

Using a combination of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative and Native Network technologies, the two companies will provide “hybrid, fixed wireless broadband internet access, including TV White Spaces to Tribes within the Flathead Reservation in Montana as well as the Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington, according to Smith.