Nextlink Internet and Microsoft have joined to close the US’s broadband gap by bringing high-speed internet to hundreds of rural communities as part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative.
With Microsoft’s goal of extending broadband access to over 3 million unserved people in rural America by July 2022, Nextlink will expand their coverage in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
“It’s time to deliver on the connectivity promises that have been made to people across the country, and this partnership will help do that for many who have been left behind and unserved in the heartland of America,” said Shelley McKinley, vice president of technology and corporate responsibility at Microsoft. “In the past two years with our Airband Initiative, we’ve seen that progress is possible – particularly when the public and private sectors come together.
“Partnerships with regional internet service providers like Nextlink that have the desire and wherewithal to provide internet connectivity are a critical part of closing the broadband gap and helping families, children, farmers, businesses and whole communities to not only survive, but thrive in the 21st century.”
Nextlink will deploy a variety of broadband connectivity solutions such as wireless technologies leveraging unused TV frequencies in select markets. The organisation will continue its deployments in Texas and Oklahoma and immediately begin deployment efforts in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
“Nextlink is tremendously excited about the opportunity to join forces with Microsoft,” said Bill Baker, CEO of Nextlink. “This agreement will accelerate the rollout of high-speed broadband access to underserved areas that are desperate for this critical service. This in turn will make those areas more attractive for employers who require high-speed broadband to operate. By itself, this project is going to generate hundreds of full-time, long-term jobs in rural communities as Nextlink builds out and services the required networks. The overall impact to rural communities in terms of job creation and increased viability for all employers is tremendous.”
The improved connectivity will boost economic, educational and telehealth opportunities for the region’s residents, and could be particularly impactful for farmers. Together, the states covered by this deal account for over US$120 billion in annual agricultural value, or 29% of the agricultural output of the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
With broadband access, farmers can gain better access to markets and take advantage of advancements in precision agriculture, enabling them to better monitor crops and increase their yields, which can translate into significant economic returns.