Native Network and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced a new agreement to provide broadband Internet access to approximately 73,500 unserved people in rural communities in Washington and Montana. The partnership is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which aims to extend broadband access to 2 million people in unserved portions of rural America by July 4, 2022.
Through the partnership, Native Network will provide hybrid fixed-wireless broadband Internet access, including TV White Spaces, to tribes within Flathead Reservation in Montana as well as Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.
"Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century and is critical for farmers, small-business owners, health-care practitioners, educators and students to thrive in today's digital economy," said Microsoft President Brad Smith. "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."
"We are thrilled that Microsoft's goals align with Native Network's, which was formed in 2015 to work exclusively on telecom and technology projects in Indian country with a recent emphasis on distribution networks for Internet access in unserved and underserved markets," said Jenny Rickel, Native Network co-founder and chief operating officer.