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Microsoft’s Rural Broadband Strategy Good News for Trump

The company’s president announced how it would use “TV white spaces” and satellite technologies to bring rural voters up to speed…

Microsoft President Brad Smith announced Tuesday that tech giant is using “TV white spaces” and satellite technologies to eliminate the rural broadband gap entirely in the next five years.

About 23.4 million Americans live in rural areas that lack the infrastructure for broadband technology. High costs and a lack of options have stymied efforts to increase rural access, but through its new technologies and partnerships with the public sector and groups like the National 4-H Council, Microsoft is hoping to change that.

Microsoft Broadband Map

TV white spaces, a technology that has been in development for about a decade, uses dormant VHF and UHF spectrum frequencies to transmit broadband to population densities ranging from two to 200 people per square mile:

Wireless technologies that utilize TV white spaces are designed to transmit in VHF and UHF spectrum that was traditionally allocated for broadcast television. By leveraging these unused frequencies, TV white spaces devices can create wireless broadband connections, while protecting broadcasters and other licensees from harmful interference.

This technology should cover about 80 percent of those Americans without broadband. But in population densities less than two people per square mile, Smith said satellite technologies will be used to reach those individuals.

And that’s a boon to President Trump. Much of Trump’s 2016 presidential win came from voters in rural areas, and this project would be an opportunity for the president to hand-deliver a service of enormous magnitude to those very voters and communities.

Counties Trump Won

Microsoft says the project is already underway in critical electoral states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin, among others. The connectivity provided by this project impacts not just broadband access, but improvements to education, healthcare, agriculture and small businesses.