Microsoft’s “Connect Americans Now” advocacy group aims to get more rural Americans online

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Microsoft has long been pushing for the use of TV White Space tech in rural America to help more folks get online, but the company recently took things to a new level. As noted by Venture Beat, Microsoft formed the “Connect Americans Now” advocacy group, helping advocate the FCC to remove regulations that are in the way of rural broadband initiatives.

The news comes right after Microsoft President Brad Smith pushed out a note on the top 10 tech issues for 2018, with technology for rural communities making the list. Anyway, The App Association, a software trade organization, and the National Rural Education Association join Microsoft as members of the Connect Americans Now advocacy group.

According to a website for Connect Americans Now, the group plans to “engage policymakers in a meaningful dialogue on the most effective ways to ensure that all American communities can benefit from high-speed broadband coverage.” The website also cites that roughly 34 million Americans lack a broadband connection and 23.4 million live in rural areas.

TV White Space technology depends on the use of open unused broadcast spectrums (mainly from TV stations) to bring internet to rural areas. These airwaves also can travel greater distances and can better penetrate through walls and other obstacles. Microsoft plans to provide small investments in capital expenditure to build the TV White Space broadband networks, but like any commercial environment does not take a return on investment into consideration. The tech was in use in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands following hurricanes.