Microsoft Corporation, through its Airband initiative, has been bridging the digital divide over the past four years by expanding access to broadband in rural areas of the United States. But reliable and affordable internet access is not always available in cities either.
The company is now turning its attention to urban areas and expanding its Airband program to Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, El Paso, and Memphis.
Although there is broadband infrastructure in those cities, access is still prohibitively expensive for many due to service and hardware costs. This puts access to the basics of life beyond the reach of millions. Especially in black, African American, Latino, and Hispanic communities.
Microsoft facilitates access to the Internet
In addition to lowering the cost of broadband service, Microsoft plans to provide free or low-cost refurbished devices. This is in order to help people in disadvantaged communities in those eight cities to access the Internet. It also provides tools and resources to help people learn or improve digital skills.
The company is working with a variety of partners to help make this happen, including PCs for People and DigitalC. One of Microsoft's measures to bridge the digital divide is a funding program for people with low credit scores or no credit history who are ISP's low-cost broadband customers called Starry.
These folks will be able to purchase a Surface Go 2, Office for Home, and Office for Student for $22 a month. The offer is open in Los Angeles and New York City, and Microsoft will bring it to the other six cities in the coming months. Airband's expansion into cities is part of Microsoft's racial justice initiative.
The company announced the program last summer with the goal of addressing inequality and racial injustice to the black and African American communities in the United States. Meanwhile, efforts are being made at the federal and state levels to bridge the digital divide.
President Biden's infrastructure plan includes broadband expansion. California Governor Gavin Newsom's proposed budget included a $7 billion public broadband project.