Microsoft’s new plan to bring broadband to everyone in the US

By: Roger Cheng

Microsoft wants to make sure even the hard-to-reach places in the US have access to speedy internet service.

The software titan plans to promote a wireless access technology called “white space,” which figures to be the centerpiece of a speech given by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith later today, according to The Wall Street Journal (paywall). White space employs the unused slivers of spectrum that fall between what TV broadcaster use to deliver their channels over the air.

Microsoft plans to work with regional telecom companies to invest in at least a dozen projects in 12 states over the next year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

White space technology has been bandied about as a possible way to provide internet access to the parts of rural America where it’s too expensive for rural telecom providers to lay out infrastructure for DSL or cable lines. White space is unlicensed spectrum, so companies don’t have to bear the expense of buying the radio frequencies and can more cheaply use the technology than traditional cellular airwaves like the ones Verizon and AT&T employ.

Verizon and AT&T are exploring delivering internet access via their own 5G cellular networks, but are still in the early stages of testing the technology out.