Through its Airband Initiative, Microsoft has been working to close the digital divide throughout the most recent four years by extending broadband access in rural parts of the US. In any case, reliable, affordable internet access isn’t generally accessible in urban areas, by the same token. The organization is presently directing its concentration toward urban areas and growing the Airband program to Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, El Paso and Memphis.
Albeit broadband infrastructure exists in those urban areas, access is still unaffordable for some because of service and device costs. That leaves “access to essentials of life out of reach for millions,” as Airband general manager Vickie Robinson put it in a blog post. The issue is “particularly acute in Black, African American, Latinx and Hispanic communities,” Robinson composed.
As well as decreasing the expense of broadband service, Microsoft plans to give free or low-cost refurbished devices to help individuals in underserved communities in those eight urban communities access the internet. It will likewise offer tools and resources to assist people with learning or improve digital skills. The organization is working with a variety of partners to help get that going, including PCs for People and DigitalC.
One of the actions Microsoft is adopting to close the digital divide is a financing program for individuals with low credit scores or no credit history who are low-cost broadband customers of an ISP called Starry. They’ll have the option to purchase a Surface Go 2 and Office for Home and Student for $22 per month. The offer is open in Los Angeles and New York City, and Microsoft will carry it to the next six urban areas in the coming months.
Airband’s expansion into urban communities is additionally part of Microsoft’s Racial Equity Initiative. The organization declared the program the previous summer fully intent on tending to racial inequity and injustice for the Black and African American community in the US.
In the interim, efforts are in progress at federal and state level to close the digital divide. President Biden’s infrastructure plan, incorporates a broadband extension while California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget included a $7 billion public broadband project.