Microsoft to provide internet access to US rural tribes

Microsoft signs agreement with Native Network to serve 73,500 people living in rural communities in Montana and Washington


Microsoft is partnering with telecom company Native Network to provide broadband internet access to approximately 73,500 people living in rural communities in US states, Montana and Washington.

Native Network aims to create a telecommunication network connecting the various tribes in the US which the Native Network defines as "a modern network that mirrors historic trade routes".

"Using historic trade routes as a model, and modern technology as a means, we create a new age of prosperity for participating tribes and their communities," Native Network explained.

With Microsoft, Native Network will have the ability to offer inexpensive hybrid, fixed-wireless broadband internet access, including TV White Spaces, to tribes within the Flathead Reservation in Montana and the Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.

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Of the partnership, Montana governor Steve Bullock commented: "Our Indian nations and all of rural Montana should have the same expectation of wireless connectivity as those living in more urban areas.

"We're looking forward to seeing this technology employed in service of some of our most remote citizens and appreciate the hard work of Microsoft in deploying it."

The new partnership with Native follows Microsoft's recent partnership with Canadian network company, Redline Communications, to reduce the cost of TV white space services at a global scale. Both partnerships are part of Microsoft's Airband initiative, which aims to provide broadband access to two million US citizens in rural communities by July 4 2022, Microsoft stated.

According to Microsoft president Brad Smith, "Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century" and said that it is "critical for farmers, small-business owners, health-care practitioners, educators and students to thrive in today's digital economy".

"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," Smith remarked.

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