Microsoft has made several strides with its Airband Initiative since announcing plans last year to bring broadband internet to millions of people that lack access in rural America. As part of the initiative’s latest move, Microsoft has teamed up with Native Network to extend broadband access to tribal lands in both Washington and Montana.
According to Microsoft, the expansion will help cover more than 73,000 people in rural communities across both states. Native Network will provide “affordable, hybrid, fixed-wireless broadband access” to tribes in the Flathead Reservation in Montana and the Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.
“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.”
The Airband Initiative was initially unveiled last year with the goal of covering two million underserved people in rural America with broadband internet by 2022. Since then, Microsoft has partnered with providers in several states to expand the use of unused TV white space to wirelessly deliver broadband access in remote areas that may be difficult to reach through other means.