Priya Chawla
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Microsoft To Layoff 18,000

Microsoft has a plan to bring internet to the furthest reaches of the U.S. not with cables but through the air. The plan hinges on so-called “white space” television bandwidth, which could help bring high-speed broadband internet to millions under served Americans.

“White spaces” are intentional gaps between television channels on the wireless spectrum below 700 MHz put in place for buffering purposes, so important bands with actual traffic have some breathing room between each other. But if put to use for internet purposes, these bands have superior reach over regular Wi-Fi with the ability to get a connection over 6 miles away (10 kilometers), and can easily move through buildings or vegetation, two factors that make it intriguing for rural use.

But Microsoft is attempting to frame white spaces as a legacy project, comparing the effort to achieving coast-to-coast telephone communication in 1916. It notes in a white paper that like “phones (which took 13 years to go from initial approval to the first available commercial products), Wi-Fi devices (which took 14 years) and 4G LTE devices (which took nine years), TV white spaces technologies presented numerous technological and other hurdles that had to be overcome to make them a feasible solution for closing the digital divide.”

Microsoft is advertising its efforts in Virginia, seen in the video above, as a model that will work for the rest of rural America. The company gave $250,000 to Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., in conjunction with equal or larger donations from local groups. The efforts gave limited white space internet to 1,000 homes.

Source: Microsoft via Wall Street Journal