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NETWORK BUSINESS SYSTEMS, MICROSOFT ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO DELIVER BROADBAND INTERNET TO RURAL COMMUNITIES
Source: Microsoft Corp. news release

On Thursday, Network Business Systems Inc., an Illinois-based wireless internet provider, and Microsoft Corp. announced a new agreement to deliver broadband internet access to rural communities in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota, including approximately 126,700 people who are currently unserved.

This partnership addresses a critical need, as approximately 36 percent of people living in rural Illinois, 22 percent in rural Iowa and 25 percent in rural South Dakota lack access to broadband internet. In today's digital economy, broadband internet access is a necessity, enabling people and small businesses to take advantage of advancements in technology, including education, healthcare and precision agriculture, and access a range of cloud-based services to run their businesses and improve their lives.

The partnership with Network Business Systems is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which aims to extend broadband access to 2 million unserved people in rural America by July 4, 2022. Network Business Systems will construct and deploy wireless internet access networks using a mix of technologies including TV white spaces - vacant spectrum that can travel over long distances and rough terrain, including the heavy foliage that is common in the Midwestern landscape.

"Everyone deserves to have access to broadband - no matter where they live - because access to broadband is access to digital opportunity," said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft's head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. "Our partnership with Network Business Systems will help ensure that hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota can participate in the 21st century economy."

"Bringing broadband internet to underserved areas is more important than ever, especially as industries including education, healthcare and business are depending more on internet access," said Kari Hofmann, general manager of Network Business Systems. "We are very glad that Microsoft is investing the money in championing the further use of TV white spaces."

Across the U.S., 19.4 million people in rural areas lack access to broadband internet. The Microsoft Airband Initiative is focused on bringing broadband coverage to people living in rural America through commercial partnerships and investment in digital skills training for people in the newly connected communities. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.


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