Declaration Networks Group and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have entered into an agreement to deliver broadband Internet access to approximately 65,000 people in unserved and underserved areas on the eastern shore of Virginia, including Accomack and Northampton Counties, and Garrett County, MD, over the next three years. The partnership is part of Microsoft's Rural Airband Initiative.
Under its NeuBeam brand, DNG delivers Internet and voice services using a combination of wireless technologies, including TV White Spaces.
"This partnership with Declaration Networks will help close the rural broadband gap for 65,000 people living on the eastern shore of Virginia and in Garrett County, MD," said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft's head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. "Broadband is essential for agriculture, education, business and healthcare. Microsoft's Airband initiative is focused on bringing this necessity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022 and accelerating the national priority of closing the broadband gap."
"DNG and Microsoft share a commitment to establishing quality broadband solutions for rural America," said Bob Nichols, CEO of DNG. "Our partnership reflects a shared vision that focuses on an effective plan to align stakeholders, technology and resources for a sustainable path to address the digital divide."
In addition to commercial partnerships with local companies like Declaration, Microsoft's Rural Airband Initiative includes digital skills training for people in newly connected communities and access to royalty-free patents. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.
Microsoft inked a similar deal with Packerland Broadband in February to expand Internet access in rural northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.