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Microsoft goes to the countryside to send warmth: free broadband to the United States

via:博客园     time:2018/12/7 10:02:22     readed:178

Sina Technology Zheng Jun from the US Silicon Valley

The old man opened the door, we are Microsoft, give you warmth, oh no, we are here to send broadband.


Google Project Loon

How to provide the Internet to remote areas around the world is a major sentiment and challenge for major technology companies in recent years. For the same purpose, different companies have different technical solutions, the most cool of which is airborne: Google chose a stratosphere balloon, Facebook chose a drone, and SpaceX chose to launch a satellite. Google's project started earlier, and it has already achieved commercialization in some countries in Africa and Asia. Facebook has abandoned its plan to develop drones this year.


Facebook drone

Compared with the appealing company's cool technology, Microsoft's network delivery project is very grounded: not only did not choose the airborne network technology on the tall, but chose to transform and use the existing technology and assets; The global mind is big, but choose to benefit the people first, especially in rural areas.


US population density

The United States has a population of nearly 330 million and a land area of ​​over 9 million square kilometers, but the population is mostly concentrated in the east and west coasts; in the central states, the population is also concentrated in urban areas. Of the 48 states, the least populated state of Wyoming is less than 600,000, or even less than a city in a populous state. In the vast rural areas of the central and western regions, telecommunications infrastructure construction lags far behind the prosperous areas of the east and west coasts, and there are even many blank spaces that are completely free of networks, even in the most prosperous California, in the north, east and south. The mountainous areas and desert areas also have many network blind spots. This is mainly because the US telecom operators are private enterprises, and the cost-return of investing in base stations and laying networks in areas with low population density is too low, which is in stark contrast to the unified planning of villages in the Chinese government.


US broadband coverage

More than one in ten people in the United States (34 million people) do not have access to broadband Internet services (network speeds below 25 Mbps), of which 23.4 million live in rural areas. Without access to high-speed Internet access, these rural residents are unable to enjoy the economic and educational opportunities that urban residents have. What Microsoft wants to change is the life of these people.


In July last year, Microsoft officially announced the launch of the Rural Airband project. Microsoft plans to partner with a number of partners to use the unused satellite TV band (white band) to send broadband services to people in rural America. At the time, Microsoft said it would be responsible for bringing broadband services to 2 million US rural users over the next five years.

The time has passed 16 months, how is Microsoft's plan to send to the countryside to go online?

Brad ·, president and general counsel of Microsoft, said yesterday that the Rural Airband program is advancing faster than expected. According to current progress, it is now expected to provide broadband services to 3 million American farmers by 2022. . “Our confidence comes not only from the progress of Microsoft's negotiation and cooperation, but also from the huge investment we are making. Microsoft is building a robust TV white-band eco-platform. ”


TV white band project plan

According to him, Microsoft has reached a cooperation agreement with 13 local telecommunications companies in 13 states in the United States to provide broadband for these regions in the next few years. Under the cooperation agreement, Microsoft will provide upfront investment to help these telecom providers expand their broadband coverage and share revenue with them; and Microsoft's revenue will continue to be invested in subsequent investments. The projects in these 13 states alone can cover 1 million rural people. Next, Microsoft plans to continue covering 12 states, including Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and California.

So how is Microsoft's grounding gas project implemented? The TV white band refers to the 600MHz band that TV broadcasters do not use. This band can be used to transmit wireless signals. Among the various network coverage technologies, satellite network technology is more suitable for ultra-low density areas with population density below 2 people per square mile, while TV white band technology is suitable for medium density areas with population density of 2-200 people per square mile. Fixed-line and fiber-optic network technologies are suitable for areas with population densities of more than 200 people per square mile.

Providing broadband using the TV white band can significantly reduce costs compared to laying a fixed line. Microsoft expects to provide broadband for US rural residents with only $8 billion to $12 billion in total capital investment and initial operating costs, which is 80% lower than the cost of laying fiber-optic broadband and 50% lower than erecting 4G wireless networks. On the consumer side, the cost of converting TV white bands into broadband networks on rooftop installations has been reduced from $800 to $300, and Microsoft hopes to reduce it to $100 in the future.

In fact, the use of television white bands to provide broadband is not a new technology. Prior to the launch of the Rural Airband project, Microsoft has deployed 20 TV white-band projects in 17 countries around the world to provide broadband services to 185,000 people. The US FCC approved technology for providing networks using the TV white band as early as 2010. However, the reason why this technology is not widely used is that it is fund. Network operators in rural areas lack funds and do not have enough technology. What Microsoft is doing is to constantly improve software and hardware, provide initial construction funds, develop industry standards, and explore viable business models. In addition, Microsoft also called on government regulatory agencies such as the FCC to provide support policies to ensure that the TV white space below 700Mhz is continuously available; and to call on federal and local governments to provide infrastructure investment.

However, when Microsoft announced the project last year, it was widely skeptical in the satellite TV industry. However, with the gradual promotion of Microsoft, some local operators in rural areas began to contact Microsoft and became the first partners of Rural Airband, including Packerland Broadband in Michigan and Upper Peninsula in Wisconsin. Microsoft made it clear that it does not intend to profit from this broadband project, nor will it enter the telecommunications industry.

So, how much benefit does this project have for Microsoft? Since the new CEO Natella Nadella took office in 2014, Microsoft's corporate strategic focus has shifted to the development of cloud services. Providing broadband services to rural areas, helping US farmers and rural businesses and schools to achieve high-speed Internet access will undoubtedly bring more consumer and business users to Microsoft's cloud services. But as Microsoft said, access to high-speed Internet in rural areas benefits the entire technology industry.

However, supporting vulnerable areas has always been Microsoft's sense of social responsibility. After Trump unexpectedly defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, many Silicon Valley technology companies lamented that democracy was frustrated; among the many technology giants, only Microsoft publicly mentioned the real reason for Trump's election —— Unbalanced development, the gap between the rich and the poor in the region has widened.

Microsoft President Smith wrote an official blog at the time, "No matter which side is supported in the general election, Microsoft firmly believes that the United States should now unite. Every elected president deserves Microsoft's congratulations, wishes and support. The peaceful transition of power is the continuation and key building block of American democracy, and it remains the same. Microsoft congratulated Trump on his election as President of the United States. ”

Microsoft also began to reflect on the disconnect between the US technology industry and other regions; it believes that the technology industry has not taken enough measures to help those who have developed backward in recent years. In fact, Trump’s ability to beat Hillary and Wall Street’s Hillary is based on the mid-western voters who rely on traditional industries for economic development far behind Silicon Valley and New York, especially the Great Lakes region. Public support. Among them, the rural areas of the United States almost support the Republican Party and Trump.

At the time, Microsoft said, “In an era of rapid change, we need innovation to drive inclusive economic growth and help everyone move forward. This requires the government, the private sector, and individuals to share responsibility. & rdquo; It seems that Microsoft is actually fulfilling its social responsibility to support economically disadvantaged areas.

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